OAKLAND -- The family of a bicyclist who died after being hit by a car following a fall from his bike on Grizzly Peak Boulevard filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the city Tuesday claiming the fall was a result of a faulty roadway.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Nancy Lee and her two children, Monica and Samantha, claims that the city should be held responsible for the death of Allan Lee, 53, because it knew the roadway was in dangerous disrepair but failed to make improvements despite numerous complaints.
Allan Lee flew over the front handlebar of his bike on Sept. 24, 2011, after the bike's front tire was caught in a roughly two inch deep rut in the middle of the road causing the bicycle to stop suddenly, the lawsuit claims. Lee, who was wearing a helmet, was then thrown into the path of an oncoming car that could not stop in time, the lawsuit states.
The city is responsible for the death, the family's attorney said, because it knew the roadway was in disrepair but failed to take any action. Under both state law and the city's bicycle master plan, Oakland is responsible for ensuring roadways are safely maintained, the lawsuit states.
"As recently as four or five months before this happened, there were local organizations that were communicating with the city about this particular roadway and all the cracks in it," said Steven Cavalli, the family's attorney. "If the roadway poses a danger to either motorists or bicyclists and the public agency has notice of that danger, it is required to fix it."
Cavalli is seeking unspecified monetary damages from the city including costs associated with funeral and burial expenses, lost wages and punitive damages. Allan owned a restaurant in Alameda.
Cavalli said Allan Lee was traveling at about 15 mph downhill with a group of about 14 other riders when his bike hit the rut. The driver of the car that hit him was traveling uphill and could not react in time to avoid Lee, Cavalli said.
Alex Katz, spokesman for the City Attorney's Office, declined to comment, citing an office policy of not making statements until lawsuits are reviewed.
Soon after the Allan Lee's death, city work crews repaired the portion of Grizzly Peak Boulevard where the accident occurred.