San Diego City Council

San Diego Pays $24 Million to Cyclist Paralyzed in Fiesta Island Crash

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San Diego has agreed to a nearly $24 million settlement with a cyclist paralyzed seven years ago when a car driven by an intoxicated driver collided with him on a blind turn.

The City Council approved the payout to Juan Carlos Vinolo in September and was scheduled to finalize the deal Tuesday, the Union-Tribune reported.

The $23.75 million settlement is one of the largest to a single plaintiff in the city’s recent history, the newspaper said.

Theresa Lynn Owens was convicted of driving under the influence of methamphetamine and is serving a 19-year prison sentence. But Vinolo filed a lawsuit in 2016 contending the city also deserved part of the blame.

His suit alleged that blind corners on the one-way road on Fiesta Island were made more dangerous by overgrown bushes and high berms that officials knew were problematic but never addressed.

In 2019, a civil jury assigned 27% of the liability to the city and 73% to Owens.

City Attorney Mara Elliott said after the jury verdict that officials couldn’t be expected to prevent an intoxicated driver from speeding on a one-way road in the wrong direction. Elliott declined Monday to provide any additional comment.

Vinolo suffered a severed spine in the 2014 crash that left him paralyzed from the chest down.

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