Menlo Park: Driver who hit twins not at fault in earlier accident

Police say that in 2012 another driver backed into Edward Nelson's car

Although the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed against a 90-year-old man who crashed a BMW SUV into 6-year-old twins on a Menlo Park sidewalk have called his driving record into question, an incident cited in their updated complaint appears to have little relevance.

The Oct. 17 crash broke one twin's arm and left the other boy in critical condition; he was released from Stanford Hospital following a five-week stay and multiple surgeries.

The Cadigan family filed a lawsuit against the driver, Edward Nelson, seeking punitive as well as general damages for injuries ranging from multiple, extensive skin grafts and lower-body damage; orthopedic and soft-tissue damage to the upper body; and emotional trauma.

A San Mateo County Superior Court judge dismissed the request for punitive damages last month, but allowed the family's attorneys to file an amended complaint, which they did on Feb. 3.

The updated filing claims Mr. Nelson was involved in an accident in Menlo Park on Nov. 8, 2012, and had his license suspended by the DMV as a result until it was re-issued in August 2013. Therefore, the complaint alleges, he should have known "it was not safe" for him to drive.

However, according to police records, that 2012 accident involved another driver hitting Mr. Nelson's car when the driver backed out of a parking space. Investigators determined Mr. Nelson was not the party at fault, police said, which calls into question whether the DMV would even have had grounds for suspending his license.

The Cadigans' attorneys, Michael Kelly and Valerie Rose, did not respond to inquiries from the Almanac as to why they chose to include that incident in the amended complaint.

Last month the District Attorney's Office, in explaining its decision to file no criminal charges against Mr. Nelson for the Oct. 17 crash, said that he had no prior suspensions or history of reckless driving. Mr. Nelson is currently without a license, however, but it's unclear whether that's the result of a suspension or a voluntary surrender.

Under California criminal law, an infraction for driving on the sidewalk was the only possible charge, and the evidence didn't support filing it, according to the District Attorney's Office, because nothing indicated that Mr. Nelson intentionally hit the boys.

Mr. Nelson did not respond to requests for comment. His attorneys have now asked the court to compel representatives from BMW to show up for deposition regarding data collected from his SUV after the Oct. 17 accident.


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Posted by Former MP
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Glens
on Feb 11, 2014 at 6:57 am

If Nelson had profusely apologized and volunteered his licence in the beginning after this tragic accident, no lawsuits would be necessary. Instead he chose to blame little children for playing on the sidewalk, where they belong.

I hope he never drives again, and gets more ethical lawyers.

Drivers over 80 should be required to taking driving, reaction time and other tests annually to renew. This accident shouldn't have happened.

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Posted by parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 11, 2014 at 9:57 am

Did the perp offer to pay all of the victims' medical and rehab bills? That is the bottom line in this case, isn't it?

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Posted by Mike
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Feb 11, 2014 at 12:28 pm

Okay all you folks who jaywalk, run red lights, rob banks, etc. Just blame your actions on some six year old and walk away free and clear. I never knew it could be so easy to be so irresponsible. Really, there seems to be something really really wrong with our system of justice.

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Posted by Margo
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 11, 2014 at 12:39 pm

I'm really astonished that a judge could rule this driver is without fault when his car drove onto the sidewalk! Huh? It doesn't make sense and I hope the family of the children will appeal the decision. It was not clear to me from the article whether he has paid the medical bills for all the treatment. That would be a minimum. And yes, he should not drive again. I know it's hard to forgo driving after MANY years of independence, but a child should not pay the price of an oldster's independence.

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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 11, 2014 at 12:45 pm


I judge has not ruled that Nelson is not responsible. His lawyers are arguing that, but a judge has not ruled nor has this case settled.

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Posted by Sandy Brundage, Almanac Staff Writer
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 11, 2014 at 12:50 pm

The "earlier accident" referred to in the headline occurred in Nov. 8, 2012.

As outlined in the story, the plaintiffs recently amended the lawsuit filed in regards to the twins' injuries with reference to that 2012 accident; however, investigators said Mr. Nelson was not at fault - another driver had backed into his car upon leaving a parking space. The lawsuit remains active.

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Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Feb 11, 2014 at 1:34 pm

Our criminal justice system is a farce. Changes need to be made to the law so people running over children who are walking on the sidewalk, don't get off scott free.

EVERYONE: Send a copy of this article to your legislators, asking that a law be passed to cover these kinds of criminal actions. I have already sent this article to Rep. Rich Gordon and Sen. Jerry Hill. If there's anyone else I should send this article to, please let me know.

As to Mr. Nelson, "RICH GUY ATTORNEY, LIVES IN WOODSIDE". Need any more be said? I am disgusted beyond anything!!! : (

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Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 11, 2014 at 2:21 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

The Attorneys are grasping at straws for punitive damages and are running out of gas.

The medical expenses should be paid. Let the case proceed and then make comments.

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Posted by a parent and a caregiver
a resident of Portola Valley: Woodside Highlands
on Feb 11, 2014 at 3:46 pm

i am simply flabbergastered asThis is simply appaling to me that there is even a discussion that there is no conviction here !!. No one , including, "old folks" ....should be spared with pinning ANYBODY walking on the side street !!! That man failed to control his vehicule, end of it !.....Isn't it what we are supposed to do in the first place ?? Control our vehicule !! yes ? In order to receive a license, we prove we are a responsible driver ???If the kids would have died, would that be said that they had thrown themselves under the old folk car ?? Even perhaps the twins should be sue ??? ...what a joke....What are we talking about ? Guilty he is for pinning these kids !!! End of it. And yes i agree : the elderly definitely more regular testing of eyes, ears, and verify if the reflexes and good judgement are still ok.....
I am sooo sorry for those children for their trauma and for the parents anguish that nothing can smooth in front of such an injustice..... sad...sad...sad

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Posted by Justice
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 11, 2014 at 7:12 pm

For justice to be served, the twins' parents should get compensated for all their medical bills. They also have a right to be compensated for any additional future care of the boys. The twins themselves should each receive a monetary sum to compensate them for their loss of time, their pain and suffering, their decreased enjoyment of life, their foreseen future medical expenses, and their loss of future wages caused by their injuries.
The family is being disserviced by their attorneys who drag up a former accident in which the elderly Woodside lawyer bears no blame. Perhaps the family should hire a more able legal team???

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Posted by apathy
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 11, 2014 at 9:23 pm

The judge that made this ruling was up for reelection this year, but nobody filed to run against him.

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Posted by Justive
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 12, 2014 at 8:37 am

The judge made the right ruling. It may not be a popular one, but it was the correct one.

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Posted by Justice
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 12, 2014 at 8:40 am

The family's recourse now will be in civil, not criminal, court. That is the way the legal system is set up. They will have their "day in court." Money, and not incarceration, is the penalty.

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Posted by M Smith
a resident of another community
on Mar 10, 2014 at 8:52 pm

I saw the vehicle on the sidewalk shortly after the accident happened. I wonder how long this 90 year old had been driving this particular car. Was it new to him, and why did he need what might have been "too much car" for him.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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