News

Menlo Park: Softer defense rhetoric in lawsuit over crash that injured twins

Defense "understands full well the damage that was done to this innocent family"

A new tone appeared in the latest defense filings in a lawsuit over the car crash that pinned 6-year-old twin brothers against a downtown wall in Menlo Park. The defense now asserts the family wasn't at fault and deserves compensation.

The Cadigan twins and their 9-year-old brother were walking along Santa Cruz Avenue in Menlo Park on Oct. 17 when a BMW SUV with the license plate "EN ESQ" jumped onto the sidewalk.

The crash broke one twin's arm and left the other twin in critical condition in the hospital facing a five-week stay and multiple surgeries.

The family seeks punitive as well as general damages on behalf of all three boys; the lawsuit describes their injuries as ranging from multiple, extensive skin grafts and damage to the lower body; orthopedic and soft-tissue damage to the upper body; and emotional trauma.

Mr. Nelson, the 90-year-old driver of the car, at first denied all responsibility for the resulting injuries. Documents initially filed in opposition to the Cadigan family's lawsuit claimed the children were engaged in behavior that was reckless, careless and negligent, and voluntarily placed themselves in danger by walking along the sidewalk.

But his legal team appears to have abandoned that rhetoric. Their Feb. 13 filing states: "The defense understands full well the damage that was done to this innocent family. The Cadigans are entitled to reasonable compensatory damages for their injuries. But we do not agree that Edward Nelson should be punished for this sad and tragic accident."

His attorneys did not respond to a request for comment before the Almanac's deadline.

The filing was submitted in response to the Cadigan family's renewed pursuit of punitive damages after a San Mateo County Superior Court judge dismissed their first request. In an amended complaint, the plaintiffs alleged that an accident Mr. Nelson was involved in on Nov. 8, 2012, should have indicated that it wasn't safe for him to drive. The filing claimed the DMV suspended his license as a result until he petitioned for a new one in August 2013.

However, police records indicate that the 2012 accident involved another driver hitting his car while backing out of a parking space. Investigators determined Mr. Nelson was not the party at fault, police told the Almanac, which calls into question whether the DMV would have had reason to suspend his license.

Mr. Nelson's defense team did not delve into the 2012 accident in their response to the amended complaint beyond asking whether the alleged facts are true. And if his license was suspended but then re-issued, his attorneys asked, does that not suggest the state determined he was fit to drive only months before the 2013 crash?

Mr. Nelson's license has since been surrendered, the District Attorney's Office said, although it's unclear whether that was voluntary or not.

He graduated from Stanford Law School and was licensed to practice law from 1957 to 2001, according to the California State Bar. A team of two attorneys from Pedersen Eichenbaum & Lauderdale of San Jose and one from Dyer & White in Menlo Park is representing him in the lawsuit.

Comments

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Posted by Elsie Floriani
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 5, 2014 at 12:36 pm

To even have had the nerve to blame those innocent children for this tragedy, merely walking on a pedestrian sidewalk at the time, was simply ludicrous--actually outrageous! I am happy the attorneys have seen fit to acknowledge the absurdity of that claim and compensate this family for the very serious injuries that will no doubt have lifetime consequences.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Mar 5, 2014 at 2:42 pm

I second reader Elsie Floriani's comments. Well said.

I'm wondering if perhaps after reading the dozens of reader comments left with each publication of well-to-do Woodside attorney Ed Nelson's heinous act, that well-to-do Woodside attorney Ed Nelson and his team of shysters sensed the outrage and disbelief of the community, and decided it would be better to step up to the plate and fess up to this matter, as well-to-do Woodside attorney Ed Nelson should have done in the first place.

Kudos to the Cadigan family for their persistence in this matter. My heart goes out to them for all they have suffered since well-to-do Woodside attorney Ed Nelson ran over their children, causing very serious injuries "...that will no doubt have lifetime consequences", as reader Floriani observes, and with which I agree.

Does anyone happen to know the name of the San Mateo County Superior Court Judge who initially denied the Cadigan's first request? I would love to write him/her a letter, asking just how much behind-the-scenes, good-old-boy politics played a part in denying the Cadigan's first request. Just askin'... : )





 +   Like this comment
Posted by Harriet
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 5, 2014 at 4:02 pm

When the door is "slammed in your face" keep pushing. Kudos to the family to keep pursuing.

Hope all turns out well for the family years from now.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Mar 5, 2014 at 4:13 pm

Sandy, you said: "Documents initially filed in opposition to the Cadigan family's lawsuit claimed the children were engaged in behavior that was reckless, careless and negligent, and voluntarily placed themselves in danger by walking along the sidewalk."
I searched those initial documents filed by Nelson and found no instances of "sidewalk". Case CIV525266 Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tom
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 5, 2014 at 10:49 pm

Its NOT an accident. An accident is if lightening hits you or a tree falls on you. Driving down the sidewalk is human error, not an accident. Human error that results in physical injury is negligence.

If they want to reward acts of negligence that's a different story. Maybe they should also empty the prisons of anyone who says they 'didn't mean to do it'.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Love a Little
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 6, 2014 at 3:08 pm

This is and was a great tragedy. I am deeply saddened at the weeks and weeks of Schadenfreude. I would everything to bet this is not how a 90 year old man wanted to end a long life.

This is only sad. For everyone; try remembering that.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by no sympathy
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 6, 2014 at 5:20 pm

I lost all sympathy for the perp when he accused the kids of getting in the way of his SUV when he was driving on the sidewalk. He is a lawyer himself and surely knew exactly how his legal team was trying to intimidate the victims. Hopefully he will pay up soon instead of dragging this case through the courts for years.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Mar 6, 2014 at 7:05 pm

Thank you, no sympathy. We are on the same page. Well-to-do Woodside attorney Ed Nelson and his legal team knew exactly what they were doing when trying to intimidate the victims. What a sad commentary. Shame on well-to-do Woodside attorney Ed Nelson and his team of shysters for their cowardly tactics.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Shawn
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Mar 6, 2014 at 7:12 pm

Would Mr. Nelson feel the same way if that were HIS grandchildren and the driver was someone else?


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