Bike/pedestrian accident on shared trail. $10M. Sacramento County.


Pedestrians found liable for causing cyclists' injuries when tandem bike strikes pedestrian from behind.

The Case

  • Case Name: Kenneth Korsmo and Carol Korsmo v. Madalyn Ashby and Julio Lawrence
  • Court and Case Number: Sacramento Superior Court / 34-2014-00170180
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Thursday, October 24, 2019
  • Date Action was Filed: Tuesday, October 14, 2014
  • Type of Case: Bicycle Accident
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Geoffrey Goodman
  • Plaintiffs:
    Ken Korsmo, 70.
    Carol Korsmo, 72.
  • Defendants:
    Julio Lawrence
    Madalyn Ashby
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $10,172,391
  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: Plaintiff Ken Korsmo: 24%; Defendant Ashby: 60%; Defendant Lawrence: 16%.
  • Economic Damages:

    Carol Korsmo:

    Past economic loss: $784,809 

    Future economic loss: $2,087,650 

    Ken Korsmo: 

    Past economic loss: $174,932

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Carol Korsmo:

    Past noneconomic loss: $1,250,000 

    Future noneconomic loss: $3,375,000 

    Ken Korsmo:

    Past noneconomic loss: $1,250,000 

    Future noneconomic loss: $1,250,000 

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 11 days.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 5 hours.
  • Jury Polls: 11-1 liability of defendant; 10-2 liability of plaintiff; 9-3 apportionment.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Demas Law Group by John N. Demas and Tim S. Spangler, Sacramento.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Belofsky & Hanker by David A. Belofsky, San Pedro. (For defendant Lawrence.)

    Gurnee Mason Rushford Bonotto & Forestiere by Phillip R. Bonotto, Roseville. (For defendant Ashby.)

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Dawn Osterweil Ph.D., neuropsychology, San Francisco.

    Deborah Doherty,M.D., rehabilitation, Kentfield.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Mark Strassberg, M.D., neurology, San Francisco.

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Carol Hyland, life care planning, Lafayette.

    Charles Mahla, Ph.D., economics, Sacramento.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    William Woodruff, accident reconstruction, Mountain View.

    Tate Kubose, human factors, Mountain View.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On June 2, 2014, at approximately 7:30 p.m., plaintiffs Ken and Carol Korsmo, (a commercial airplane pilot and charter school teacher, respectively), were out for a ride on their tandem bicycle on the American River Bike Trail in Folsom. Defendants Ashby and Lawrence were on a first date walking on the bike trail ahead of plaintiffs.

    The bike trail is divided into two lanes. Pedestrians are required to stay left, with bicyclists staying to the right. When plaintiff bikers rounded a corner, at approximately 10 m.p.h., defendants came into view. They were walking side-by-side and encroaching in the right lane.

    Ken Korsmo rang his bicycle bell and defendants split – Lawrence went left and Ashby went right. Ken Korsmo intended to go between the defendants. When defendant Lawrence saw that defendant Ashby had gone to the right, he summoned her back over to the left. Neither he nor Ashby knew where the bicycle was at that time. Ashby then quickly moved to her left, directly in front of the tandem bicycle. The bicycle struck Ashby and then crashed on the trail.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Both defendants conducted themselves in an unsafe manner based on their walking position on the trail and their actions after they were alerted to the approaching bicycle.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendant pedestrians responded appropriately to a "sudden emergency" and plaintiff bike riders were negligent in failing to slow the tandem bicycle or have further communication with the defendants before passing them.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Carol Korsmo: Severe traumatic brain injury, clavicle fracture, rib fractures, vertebral endplate fracture, liver laceration.

    Ken Korsmo: Concussion, rib fracture.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: Carol Korsmo: $567,149; Ken Korsmo: $65,317.
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: Carol Korsmo: $2.7-3.5M; Ken Korsmo: $0.
  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: Carol Korsmo: $217,660; Ken Korsmo: $109,615.
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: Carol Korsmo: $87,650; Ken Korsmo: $0.

Additional Notes

Plaintiff 998 demand to Julio Lawrence, $500,000 (policy limits); Demand to Madalyn Ashby, $300,000 (policy limits).

Defendant Lawrence 998 offer to plaintiffs, $150,000.

Madalyn Ashby settled with plaintiffs within the first two days of trial (after her testimony) for her policy limits of $300,000. The Trial Court confirmed the settlement was in Good Faith pursuant to CCP section 877.6.