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KWAN V. LAGERWEY, ET. AL

US $5 million settlement reached with driver, tavern and corporate defendants implicated in violent border crash

In May of 2004, Mr. Kwan and three other members of his family were seriously injured when their vehicle was struck from behind while stopped at a U.S. Customs outbound checkpoint only meters south of the U.S.-Canada border near Blaine, Washington. Mr. Kwan sustained injury to his brain and spinal cord along with multiple fractures. After a week in a coma, he awoke to learn that he sustained permanent partial paralysis as a result of the collision.

None of the three defendants wanted to take responsibility for the results of this accident. The driver who caused the crash was traveling at 120 km/h and had a blood alcohol reading three times the legal limit in Washington state. He claimed that he was intoxicated not by alcohol, but by ether — which he claimed was leaking from tanks in the rear of his company’s van. The tavern where the driver had been drinking that evening insisted the driver hadn’t been “overserved” – while the company who owned the van claimed that the driver wasn’t really working for them at the precise moment the crash took place..despite the fact that they had sent him up from Portland to deliver company products to customers in Whatcom County.

Cross Border Law engaged in an aggressive and multi-faceted strategy to maximize the recovery Mr. Kwan and his family members were entitled to obtain. We attended the driver’s criminal trial in Bellingham to learn what we could about the facts and circumstances surrounding the accident and the basis for the DWI charge. We retained a multi-disciplinary team of medical experts to evaluate Mr. Kwan’s condition, prognosis for recovery, and the extent of his future care needs. We conducted a session of juror “focus groups” in Bellingham with a nationally-renowned trial consulting firm to better understand how a Whatcom County jury would evaluate the issues presented. Finally, we devoted over 200 hours to legal research addressing issues of Oregon and Washington law implicated by our clients’ case.

In December, 2005, the clients reached a settlement with the three defendants involved in the case – the driver of the van that struck Mr. Kwan’s vehicle, the company that owned the van, and the tavern where the driver was drinking in the hours before the crash. The settlement ensured that Mr. Kwan will have the financial resources to meet his ongoing care needs in the years to come.

*These are excellent results. No trial results can ever be guaranteed, as the outcome of any litigation and/or the amount recovered will vary according to the facts presented by individual cases. Past successes are not necessarily determinative of future results.

 

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