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California City Paying $11M to Settle Fatal Crosswalk Crash

Sacramento has paid $11 million to settle a lawsuit after a car hit a boy and killed his grandmother in 2018, one of the city’s largest such payouts.

QuiChang Zhu, 72, and her grandson Jian Hao Kuang, 6, were using a crosswalk to cross a busy street south of downtown Sacramento, but the intersection has no traffic lights.

A driver struck the pair, killing Zhu and severely injuring Kuang, causing permanent brain damage, according to a lawsuit filed in Sacramento County Superior Court.

The settlement was reached last year but was first reported Thursday by The Sacramento Bee, which obtained details through a California Public Records Act request.

The lawsuit said the city had appeared to remove most of the paint from the crosswalk, leaving behind remnants of markings that “had the dangerous effect of being visible to pedestrians giving the impression the crossing was still intended to be a marked crosswalk, but not being visible to approaching motorists.”

The city had also removed pedestrian warning signs and painted advance warnings for motorists on the roadway.

The intersection is near an elementary school and a preschool.

City Attorney Susana Alcala Wood told the Bee the settlement will go to a special needs trust for Kuang. The lawsuit said he will never be unable to seek regular employment.

Wood called the case “certainly one of the (city’s) most tragic.”

The newspaper said the settlement appears to be the largest city payout since a $15 million payment to the family of a girl who died at a summer camp in 2016.

City spokesman Tim Swanson said the settlement may not have been discussed in public because it was pending litigation, may have violated attorney/client privilege and because the city council took no reportable action on the lawsuit.

First Amendment Coalition executive director David Snyder said that even if there is no legal disclosure requirement, cities should announce settlements at public meetings when they are final, particularly large payments.

The settlement was included in a 320-page city staff budget report issued last June.

The 22-year-old driver of the car that hit the two separately paid a $100,000 settlement to the family.

This article was first published in Insurance Journal.

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