Palo Alto parent sues city, others for $17 million

The father of a 12-year-old boy who was hit by a car while biking to school last November has filed a lawsuit against the City of Palo Alto, as well as other parties involved, after a $17 million claim was rejected by the court.

The boy, Sebastian Lerrick, was riding his bike to Hoover Elementary School on Nov. 5, 2012, when he was struck by a Nissan Quest on Park Boulevard. The driver of the car was Luis Felipe Hau, an employee at Izzy’s Brooklyn Bagels, a popular bagel shop on California Avenue in Palo Alto. Lerrick sustained traumatic head and jaw injuries, which left him in critical condition and unable to attend school for the remainder of the year. The lawsuit reports that Lerrick will suffer from mental, physical and nervous pain in the future.

“The most important thing is the health of the boy, and it’s unfortunate that he has to go through these things for the rest of his life,” said Anne Brown, the manager of Izzy’s, whose name has been changed to protect her identity. “That is the main concern that we have.”

Upon investigation, the police found that Hau lacked a valid driver’s license and had traces of methamphetamine in his system. However, Hau reportedly showed no signs of being under the influence at the time of the accident.

“Izzy’s policy doesn’t allow anyone to consume drugs, so unfortunately we had to let [Hau] go because of the drugs, not because of the accident,” Brown said.

The police reported that Hau said he could not see due to the sun in his eyes, which caused him to collide with the bicyclist. Hau also told the police that he was driving between 25 and 35 mph, within the speed limit, and stopped once he heard a crash. According to the Manager of Izzy’s Brooklyn Bagels, the police report may contain errors, as Hau is not a native English speaker, and his former manager has had trouble understanding him in the past.

In March, prosecutors working on the case determined that Hau could only be charged with driving without a valid license. If convicted, Hau could be imprisoned for one year in a county jail.

“If you run into someone, you need to face your consequences,” an anonymous Izzy’s Brooklyn Bagels employee said.

The Lerrick family is also suing the City of Palo Alto’s contractor, as there was construction at the site of the accident on Park Boulevard, and the registered owner of the Nissan Quest.

The lawsuit claims that the contractor, O’Grady Pavings, Inc., did not provide a safe path for bikers around the construction site and that Izzy’s Brooklyn Bagels should have been aware that Hau did not have a valid driver’s license. The suit, which was filed on Aug. 28 in Santa Clara County Superior Court, has not yet been served to the defendants.