City of Gainesville ordered to pay $765k to man after Segway crash
August 14, 2022
BY JENNIFER CABRERA
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The City of Gainesville has been ordered to pay Doug Haugen $765,000, including $675,000 for pain and suffering, after he sued following a scooter crash on a Gainesville sidewalk.
Haugen’s attorneys, Morgan and Morgan, stated in the complaint that Haugen was riding a Segway scooter at SE 3rd Street and SE 2nd Avenue on the night of April 12, 2020, when he crashed after riding into a recessed manhole cover on the sidewalk. Haugen’s attorneys claimed that the sidewalk was not properly maintained and that lighting in the area was not working; they said he fractured both arms and sustained additional injuries to his wrist, elbows, right knee, hands, and stomach.
Haugen said in a deposition that the scooter was a Segway Ninebot with in-line wheels, similar to the motorized scooters that are rented by the City.
The City of Gainesville claimed sovereign immunity and denied any negligence in maintaining the sidewalk or in lighting the area. The City also said it had “insufficient notice” of the recessed manhole cover and that the conditions encountered by Haugen “existed for such a short period of time that there was no notice to the City to reasonably warn or take corrective action.”
The City further asserted that Haugen didn’t wear any protective equipment and implied that it was because he said it kept him from going fast, but Haugen was clear in the deposition that he believed he would go faster if he wore protective equipment, and he didn’t want to go too fast. He said in the deposition that he thought he was going 5-6 mph at the time of the accident.
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A jury decided that the City was 100% responsible for Haugen’s injuries and that Haugen was not responsible. They awarded Haugen $26k for past medical expenses, $13k for future medical expenses, $50,000 for future lost earnings (and no award for lost earnings in the two years since the accident, presumably because he said he had retired before the accident but now wants to go back to work), $450,000 for past pain and suffering, and $225,000 for future pain and suffering.
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