The family of a 9-year-old Novato girl killed by a drunken motorcyclist in 2009 has settled a lawsuit against the city for $675,000, their lawyer said Monday.
The city also agreed to construct a memorial for the girl, Melody Osheroff, who was struck in a crosswalk on San Marin Drive. Her father, Aaron, was also hit by the motorcyclist, suffering a leg amputation and numerous other injuries.
The motorcyclist, Edward Schaefer, was killed by another inmate at San Quentin State Prison within weeks of beginning his sentence.
In addition to suing Schaefer's presumed estate, the Osheroffs sued the city of Novato, claiming the city was negligent in its maintenance of the street and crosswalk.
Osheroff attorney Walter Walker, in a statement Monday, said the "overwhelmingly predominant" cause of the calamity was Schaefer, but that family members wanted to know if the city could have done anything else to protect the public.
The collision occurred on eastbound San Marin Drive on an uphill approach to San Carlos Way. After the collision, the city added a crosswalk on the other side of San Carlos Way.
"Our contentions were that the line of sight was obscured for pedestrians using the one and only marked crosswalk that was available for pedestrians wishing to cross San Marin at this intersection," said Walker, whose personal injury law firm is Walker, Hamilton and Koenig. "The city of Novato is to be commended for undertaking changes designed to improve the intersection for its citizens."
In reaching the settlement, the city made no admission of wrongdoing, said City Manager Michael Frank. He said the city considers the blame to be entirely Schaefer's.
"The decision to settle was economic to reduce further the financial exposure to the city," he said. "Neither party has an interest in a prolonged trial with an uncertain outcome."
The city will cover $250,000 of the payment, with the rest covered by an insurance policy, Frank said. The city's annual budget is about $30 million.
The design and location of the Melody memorial have yet to be determined. The city will consult with the family on the design.
The crash occurred on May 27, 2009, when Melody and her father were crossing the street. Schaefer, a recidivist drunken driver, roared into a crosswalk on his motorcycle and slammed into the victims at an estimated 65 mph, authorities said.
Melody was pronounced dead the next day, and her father suffered two mangled legs, one of which was later amputated at the knee. Schaefer, 44, was convicted of second-degree murder and gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated for the Melody's death, as well as driving with a blood-alcohol level over the legal limit, mayhem and DUI causing great bodily injury.
When Judge Terrence Boren sentenced Schaefer, he also ordered him to pay the Osheroffs $1.4 million in restitution. After Schaefer was killed in prison, Judge Boren voided the convictions against the dead inmate, as required by law, but he let the restitution order stand.
Earlier this year, a state appeals court reversed the restitution order, saying it should have been vacated along with Schaefer's convictions when he died.
Contact Gary Klien via email at email@example.com.