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Press release content from Business Wire. The AP news staff was not involved in its creation.

Family of East Bay Bicyclist Killed by Truck Files Civil Lawsuit

May 20, 2019


The family of Martin Nelis, a 54-year-old resident of Pleasant Hill who was struck and killed by a commercial truck last year while bicycling during his lunch break, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the truck’s driver and several related companies.

The accident occurred on August 2, 2018 on Reliez Valley Road, a two-lane road winding through residential neighborhoods in Lafayette. As the truck driver attempted to pass Nelis, the trailer it was pulling struck the cyclist, running him over. The truck driver, who claims he was unaware of the accident, drove on, dragging Nelis’ bicycle beneath the truck for more than a mile. Nelis was treated on the scene by emergency responders and taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The lawsuit, case number RG19019478, was filed in the Alameda County Superior Court against the truck’s driver, Jagmeet Singh Hundal, and companies including Hundal G. Trans, Inc., Greg’s Trucking Service, Inc., Advanced Pipeline Services, Inc., Hawk Builders, Inc. and Signature Development Group, Inc. The plaintiffs are Martin Nelis’ three adult children, Aidan Maguire, Fiona Nelis and Deidre Nelis, as well as his estate. They are seeking compensatory damages based on hospital and medical expenses, general and property damage, and prejudgment interest pursuant to law. They are represented by J. Kevin Morrison and Joshua D. White, partners at San Francisco-based law firm Altair Law LLP.

Today, for the first time, home surveillance video footage that captured the truck attempting to pass Nelis moments before the accident occurred has been made public. The video, which was provided to law enforcement following the accident, along with the law enforcement investigation conducted by the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s office, point to the truck passing Nelis with little room to spare between them. This would be in violation of California’s Three Feet for Safety Act (Vehicle Code Section 21760), which requires that drivers allow a minimum of three feet between their vehicles and cyclists.

Furthermore, the truck driver violated the conditions of a construction permit by driving on the road where Nelis was killed. The driver was performing work for the Hylands Collection, a luxury housing development in Lafayette. The County issued building permit obtained by developer Signature Development Group, Inc. required that construction and large commercial vehicles access the site via specific roads suitable for commercial truck travel – which did not include the stretch of Reliez Valley Road where the accident took place.

“Martin’s tragic death was entirely preventable. My clients’ father was out enjoying a beautiful ride on a road he and countless others had safely biked many times before. The defendant was prohibited from driving his enormous commercial truck and trailer combination there, but that didn’t stop him. Nor did he adhere to California’s Three Feet for Safety Act and allow Martin a minimum cushion of three feet when attempting to pass him,” said Morrison. “The devastating result shows just how important it is for drivers to be aware of and adhere to the Three Feet for Safety Act.

While we can’t bring back Martin, through this lawsuit we intend to obtain justice for his family and send a strong message to all drivers that giving cyclists just a few feet of space saves lives.”

“Furthermore,” White added “the developer and general contractor promised the County when it was granted the permit to build the Hylands that this section of Reliez Valley Road would not be used by construction vehicles, but they failed to make sure that happened, contributing to Martin’s death.”

“My sisters and I are devastated by the loss of our father. We miss him every day,” said Aidan Maguire. “Our aim with this lawsuit is not only to hold those who broke the law responsible for our father’s death, but to raise awareness about how drivers can ensure the safety of cyclists sharing the road. Adhering to the Three Feet for Safety Act is one important way. We hope no other family will ever have to experience what we have been through.”

California’s Three Feet for Safety Act was passed in 2014. Still, serious bicycle accidents are pervasive in California. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 147 fatalities among cyclists in the state in 2016, the highest number killed in 10 years.

Martin Nelis was a loving father of three and very active in the community, serving as the Public Information Officer for the City of Pleasant Hill, Calif. since 2007. His obituary can be read here.

Attorneys for Plaintiffs

J. Kevin Morrison and Joshua D. White are attorneys at San Francisco-based Altair Law LLP, a law firm that has successfully handled hundreds of personal injury and workers’ compensation cases. Morrison, who has more than 25 years of experience, has been recognized as one of the top trial lawyers in the state. White, with 15 years of experience, is acknowledged as one of California’s premier attorneys in complex catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases.

View source version on businesswire.com:https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20190520005237/en/

CONTACT: Nick Gaffney

Zumado Public Relations





SOURCE: Altair Law LLP

Copyright Business Wire 2019.

PUB: 05/20/2019 12:01 PM/DISC: 05/20/2019 12:01 PM