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Settlement Reached Between City, Construction Firms And Paralyzed Bicyclist

San Diego City Hall administration building.
Angela Carone
San Diego City Hall administration building.

A $20 million settlement was finalized this week for a man who sued the city of San Diego and two construction firms, claiming he was paralyzed when he crashed his bicycle into an open construction trench on a city road, his attorneys said Wednesday.

Sheng "Sam" Du, a 52-year-old software architectural manager at Verizon, was riding his bike to work on Dec. 8, 2017, when he fell into a trench that extended across the bike lane on Sorrento Valley Road, according to his attorneys.

The head-first crash left Du with "catastrophic and permanent injuries, including quadriplegia, which will require the former avid cyclist to receive around-the-clock care for the rest of his life," according to a statement from his lawyers.

His attorneys alleged that no "open trench" warning signs, traffic control devices or construction personnel were on site to prevent such an accident, which was also exacerbated by glaring morning sunlight. The trench extended 20 feet from the curb and was two feet wide and one foot deep, according to the law firm.

Du and his wife sued the city, KTA Construction and civil engineering firm Harris & Associates, alleging negligence. Under the settlement, finalized Monday following approval from the San Diego City Council, the city will pay the plaintiffs $1.5 million, KTA Construction will pay $4.25 million and Harris & Associates will pay $14.25 million, according to Du's attorneys.

KTA Construction declined to comment on the settlement, while representatives from the city and Harris & Associates could not immediately be reached.

"Unfortunately, this type of tragic incident occurs more often than people think whenever construction crews and cities do not adhere to the standards set forth by the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices that specifically address open trenches and bicycle safely," Du's attorney Tom Schultz said.