Personal Injury Lawyer
The family of a pedestrian victim who was struck and killed by an attorney have filed a wrongful death claim in the case, reports Twin Cities. Their filing contradicts a local prosecutor’s conclusion that the attorney was not on his phone around the time of the deadly crash.
In February 2017, 61-year-old attorney Peter Berge hit and killed 35-year-old Scott Spoo as he biked in the Merriam Park neighborhood of St. Paul, Minnesota. Just this past week, the trustee of the Spoo family filed the wrongful death claim in the county’s district court, alleging Berge was negligent while driving.
According to the filing, the Spoo family says witnesses saw the attorney looking at his cellphone or another handheld electronic device. They also saw Berge’s vehicle go fully across the center line of the road three different times.
Earlier this year, the local county attorney’s office decided not to file felony charges against the attorney, saying that his behavior was not “grossly negligent” and that he was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs or on his phone when he hit Spoo. Prosecutors also relied on statements from witnesses for this decision.
The claim also covers another crash Berge was involved in on the very same day he struck and killed Spoo. According to the incident report that was reviewed in the court filing, a woman alleged Berge hit her as she was waiting on a highway ramp. Since the collision was at a low speed and involved no damage to her car, she decided not to file a police report.
Authorities had cited an undiagnosed brain tumor as part of the potential cause of the crash, which Spoo’s family refutes. The Spoo family also says Berge invoked his right not to incriminate himself and would not allow investigators to unlock his iPhone.
At the time of the incident, police arrested Berge because they suspected he was under the influence as he could not pass balance tests. They also said at the time that they had reason to believe he could have been on his phone when he stuck Spoo.
Two days after this crash, a tumor on Berge’s brain was discovered. His attorney said that it could have affected his vision and prevented him from seeing Spoo, but in the wrongful death claim, Spoo’s family points to biking trips Berge took shortly before the crash, which appeared to pass without incident. Spoo’s family also contends that prosecutors never reviewed Berge’s condition with independent medical professionals.
It can be very dangerous for bicyclists on the road today, with drivers being distracted more now than ever before due to the rise in the popularity of handheld technology. When a larger vehicle such as a car hits a bicyclist, it’s the bicyclist who often takes the worst of the damage due to the differences between transport size and driver protection.
Speak to an experienced bicycle accident lawyer Denver, CO trusts about your case as soon as you can if you’ve been a victim.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at the Law Office of Richard J. Banta, P.C. for their insight into bike accidents and personal injury cases.