Almanac

News - February 3, 2010

Rodney Smith's widow is ordered to reimburse driver

• Anthony Rose, the driver in the accident that killed Rodney Smith, is due $107,000 to cover expert-witness costs.

by Dave Boyce

A San Mateo County judge has ordered Portola Valley resident Mary Smith, the widow of Rodney Smith, the former chief executive of San Jose-based Altera Corp, to pay $107,225 to Anthony Rose, a former superintendent of the Portola Valley School District.

Ms. Smith had filed a wrongful death lawsuit seeking $7 million to $8 million in damages against Mr. Rose, alleging that he was at fault in a May 2007 accident on Sand Hill Road when his car collided with and killed Mr. Smith, who was riding his bicycle.

A jury decided in December, after a 10-day trial, that Mr. Rose was not at fault. Mr. Rose then sought to recover the cost of expert witnesses hired for the trial by his defense attorney, Kevin Cholakian of Cholakian & Associates in South San Francisco.

The key issue in the case was whether Mr. Smith, 67, turned his eastbound bike into the path of Mr. Rose's eastbound car, or whether Mr. Rose, 87, turned his car into the bike lane and struck Mr. Smith.

Mr. Cholakian told The Almanac in December that he built his case on the testimony of the expert witnesses who reconstructed the accident using an identical car and bicycle and analyzed the damage to both vehicles.

The jury, after 10 hours of deliberation, voted 9-3 on Dec. 1 to reject Ms. Smith's claim for damages.

Superior Court Judge Carol Mittlesteadt, one of two "complex litigation" judges in the county system, presided over the trial and on Jan. 25, ordered Ms. Smith to reimburse Mr. Rose for the costs of the expert witnesses.

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