A $2.5 million claim has been filed against the city of Seattle, citing a collision more than two years ago in which a vehicle driven by Councilmember Sally Clark injured a bicyclist.
The claim, brought by Steve Fairbanks, a former Lakewood, Pierce County, man who now lives in Oregon, represents the first step in a potential lawsuit if the claim is not settled.
It was filed Nov. 10, detailing a May 12, 2012, collision in Tacoma that purportedly occurred when Clark was on her way to an event “in her official capacity” as a City Council member.
Fairbanks, 45, was riding a bicycle on South Ninth Street trying to get through South Market Street when Clark’s Ford Escape turned in front of him, the claim says.
Fairbanks “possessed the right of way” when the collision knocked him to the ground, according to the claim.
The claim alleges Fairbanks suffered serious injury, including a broken left leg left permanently deformed with a loss of feeling and chronic pain. He underwent surgery to remove an existing plate and screws in the leg as part of his treatment, according to the claim.
As part of the claim, Fairbanks, an electrician, is seeking lost wages.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Clark described the collision as an accident, saying it occurred on a Saturday morning as she was on her way to a speaking engagement in Tacoma.
“I was in my personal car and taking a left turn just before arriving at the location. I did not see an oncoming cyclist and he didn’t have time to stop before running into my passenger side door. I and others immediately called 911 and stayed with the cyclist until he was taken to the hospital. He had a clearly broken leg,” Clark wrote.
Clark said she received and paid a citation, but did not give the sum.
“I immediately alerted my insurer, followed by city staff from FAS (Risk Management) and Law,” the statement said, referring to the Department of Finance and Administrative Services.
“This was an accident and a reminder of how quickly something like this can happen,” Clark wrote. “ As a driver and a cyclist — who rides my bike to work not often enough — I continue to be shaken by what happened. I’m thankful (if that’s the right word) that what was a bad outcome for the cyclist wasn’t worse. I am sorry for the medical time and recovery process that the cyclist has had to endure. Now that the claim is filed it’s up to insurers and lawyers to manage the process, but I wanted to share a few of my thoughts about the accident.”
In a police report, Clark was quoted as saying she was looking for a church on a corner and did not see the cyclist.
Clark has registered as a candidate for one of two at-large seats ahead of the council’s 2015 election. The council’s seven other seats are moving to district representation.
Clark was appointed to a vacant seat on the council in 2006 and then won election later that year.