Almanac

News - January 1, 2014

Driver responds to lawsuit over crash that injured 6-year-old twins in Menlo

by Sandy Brundage

The 90-year-old driver of a car that reportedly pinned two 6-year-old twin brothers against a wall on Santa Cruz Avenue has denied all responsibility for the resulting injuries, claiming the children were engaged in behavior that was reckless, careless and negligent.

The driver, Edward Nelson of Woodside, made that claim in his response to the Cadigan family's lawsuit naming him as the defendant. According to the lawsuit, filed on Nov. 14, the Cadigan twins and their 9-year-old brother were walking along Santa Cruz Avenue in Menlo Park when a BMW SUV with the license plate "EN ESQ" jumped across the sidewalk, striking the twins.

The Oct. 17 crash broke one twin's arm and left the other 6-year-old boy in critical condition; he was released from Stanford Hospital following a five-week stay and multiple surgeries. The family seeks punitive as well as general damages on behalf of all three boys for their injuries, which the lawsuit describes 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 states in his response to the lawsuit that the plaintiffs "carelessly, recklessly and negligently conducted and maintained themselves" in a way that contributed to the accident. Furthermore, "knowing the probable consequences thereof, (they) placed themselves in a position of danger and voluntarily participated in all the activities," and so assumed any related risks. Finally, the plaintiffs failed to "reasonably mitigate" any damages they sustained.

At the time of the accident, Mr. Nelson's license was confiscated and he was ordered to schedule an examination within five business days with the DMV, or risk suspension of his license.

As he held a valid license and wasn't under the influence when the accident happened, he faces only a possible infraction, according to police. The District Attorney's Office will make the final determination.

Mr. Nelson 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.

Attorney Michael Kelly, representing the Cadigan family, did not respond to requests for comment on the defendant's filing.

The court has scheduled a hearing on Jan. 23 regarding Mr. Nelson's motion to eliminate punitive damages. A case management conference is set for March 5.

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