Family of bicyclist killed in city accident files $5 million lawsuit

Attorney claims driver of truck was negligent

police found victim, 67, at fault

March 05, 2010|By Liz F. Kay | liz.kay@baltsun.com

The family of a bicyclist killed last year in a collision with a truck on Maryland Avenue in Baltimore has filed a $5 million wrongful-death lawsuit against the driver and his employer.

On Aug. 4, John R. "Jack" Yates, 67, was riding his bike south on Maryland Avenue behind a truck when he became caught in the vehicle's rear wheels and was run over as it turned right on Lafayette Avenue, in the Charles North neighborhood, police said at the time. Yates died at the scene.

The civil suit, filed Wednesday in Baltimore Circuit Court on behalf of Yates' wife, son and daughter, alleges negligence by driver Michael Dale Chandler of Severn and his employer, Potts & Callahan Inc., a demolition, excavation and equipment rental company, and seeks compensatory damages.

Steven D. Silverman, the attorney representing Yates' family, contends that Chandler and his employer were negligent because a surveillance video shows the driver turned right without signaling. Also, "he took a right turn without making sure it was clear and free of traffic - cyclists or pedestrians," Silverman said.

The lawyer contended that Yates was not at fault because laws require bicyclists to stay with the flow of traffic, as far to the right as possible.

"That's exactly what Mr. Yates did," Silverman said.

But investigators found that Yates was at fault because he was riding in parking lanes and tried to pass the truck on the right, which is illegal in Maryland, said Agent Donny Moses, a city police spokesman.

"Our investigators concluded that Mr. Yates drove into the truck," Moses said.

No charges were filed against Chandler.

The truck, a loaded fuel tanker, did not stop after the accident, but Moses said investigators do not believe the driver was aware of it.

"You roll over a body in that size truck, it's kind of like rolling over a pebble," he said.

Marc A. Klitenic, an attorney for Potts & Callahan, told The Daily Record that it was not a company truck that hit Yates and that evidence shows that neither Chandler nor Potts & Callahan caused the collision. He said police tests of blood and hair found on the company's truck were inconclusive.

According to the accident report, police found a vehicle two days after the collision at Potts & Callahan's service yard in the 2800 block of Falls Road that matched the one in the surveillance video. DNA testing of hair and blood on the truck's tires confirmed that the samples belonged to Yates, Moses said.

However, "it was inconclusive as to what caused the accident," he said.

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