$1,500,000 – Wrongful Death of a 28-Year-Old Man in a Freeway Collapse Case

This case involved a tragedy which could have been avoided, the collapse of the Cypress Structure Freeway in Oakland, California, during the 1989 San Francisco earthquake.

The law offices of Winer, McKenna & Burritt, LLP, represented plaintiff widow and her 8-year-old twins who were fatherless when the freeway collapsed on top of decedent’s car, crushing him to death.

The law firm sued Cal Trans and the State of California, and was able to establish that the State had warning that “bridges” like the Cypress Structure would not be able to withstand an earthquake of significant magnitude. The State claimed that, due to a lack of funds and bureaucratic requirements, that there were other portions of State highways that were of a higher priority for earthquake retrofitting than the Cypress Structure. Due to a lack of funds, the delay was reasonable.

Plaintiffs retained a team of experts to testify that the structure had been built inadequately on unstable soil and given the location and soil, it should have been retrofitted long before the accident.

The law offices of Winer, McKenna & Burritt, LLP, prepared a unique video editing together photos and films of decedent’s crushed car and body with interviews by a psychologist of the surviving family members as they attempted to come to terms with this tragedy.

This case received local, statewide and national media attention. The law offices of Winer, McKenna & Burritt, LLP, was featured in several news stories. Because of the aggressive litigation tactics of the firm and the video mentioned above, this was the first San Francisco earthquake-related death case to settle.

RESULT: Settlement for the plaintiffs, $1,500,000