2008 San Francisco bike accident will cost Muni $5.36M 

A San Francisco man who was seriously injured when his bike was struck by a Muni bus that allegedly sped through a stop sign is set to receive $5.36 million from the transit agency.

David Wheeler was crossing the Lower Great Highway near Ocean Beach when his bike was hit by a 16-X Noriega Express bus on November 20, 2008.

The bus operator, Roy Timmons, allegedly failed to stop before turning left onto the highway from Noriega Avenue, according to documents his lawyer filed in San Francisco Superior Court. Timmons also sped up during the maneuver, failed to use his blinker, and cut his turn short, crossing into the southbound lane of the Great Highway, where he struck Wheeler, who was crossing the street from a nearby bike path, the documents alleged.

The court filing did not specify the extent of Wheeler’s injuries, but the settlement indicated that he is under the conservatorship of Wanda F. Clinton. Conservators are usually appointed when a person is incapable of making legal or medical decisions for themselves. Attempts to contact Clinton were unsuccessful and repeated calls to attorneys at the Winslow and Hurtubise law firm — which represented Wheeler in the case — were not returned.

Wheeler’s attorneys and the City Attorney’s Office agreed to the $5.36 million settlement on June 7, according to court records. On Tuesday, the MTA’s board of directors finalized the settlement.

In 2009, the Municipal Transportation Agency took out a catastrophic insurance policy that covers accident awards that range from $5 million to $25 million. However, because Wheeler’s accident occurred before the policy was enacted, the payout will not be covered by the insurance, spokesman Paul Rose said. As a result, the settlement will come from the agency’s 2011-2012 operating budget, which is projected to include a $22 million deficit.

According to The City Attorney’s Office, Wheeler’s settlement is the second costliest paid out by the MTA since 1995. In 2008, the MTA approved a $21 million settlement to the family of Elizabeth Dominguez, a three-year-old girl who was struck and killed by an agency employee driving a maintenance truck.

Wheeler’s settlement is actually more than twice as costly as the lawsuits and claims that resulted from the agency’s high-profile light-rail vehicle accident at West Portal Station in 2009. That collision, which injured nearly 50 people, brought about $2.4 million in injury payouts.

Timmons retired from the MTA in 2010.



Costliest MTA Settlements since 1995

Name Incident Date Settlement/Judgment
Humberto and Lopez Dominguez 2/11/2003 $21 million
David Wheeler 11/20/2008 $5.36 million
Gavin Lum 11/26/2003 $4.25 million
Emily Jean Landsverk 12/15/1996 $4 million
Grace and J.C. Criswell 10/23/1999 $3.35 million
Peter Jones 8/17/1995 $3.26 million
Dewey Kim 11/16/2007 $3.25 million
Janice and Wayne Racek 4/16/1998 $3.15 million
Danielle Perez  
10/23/2004 $3 million

Source: SFMTA, City Attorney’s Office

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