Law Tigers assists Arizona couple in fighting city of Gilbert on dangerous road conditions

Couple seek $7.2 million from Gilbert for injuries in crash

A Gilbert couple who were seriously injured in a motorcycle crash last fall are demanding a $7.2 million settlement from the town, claiming road construction created unsafe driving conditions.

Brent and Charlotte Kapustik, both 47, were riding westbound on Guadalupe Road near Greenfield Road when the driver of a Toyota Prius turned left in front of them, according to a notice of claim filed April 22.

Renae Urie, wife of state Rep. Steve Urie, R-Gilbert, was the driver of the Prius, according to the claim.

The crash occurred around 3 p.m. Oct. 30, on Guadalupe Road. The road had recently been resurfaced, and crews had not completed lane striping, the claim states.

White dots roughly indicated where traffic lanes should be, and 50-inch traffic barricades separated eastbound and westbound traffic.

The barricades impaired Renae Urie’s vision of oncoming traffic as she turned left into a church parking lot, the claim said.

The Kapustiks’ motorcycle slammed into the passenger side of the Prius, sending the couple crashing facedown onto the asphalt. Although they were wearing helmets, they suffered numerous injuries that required surgery and a lengthy recovery, the claim said.

Charlotte, a senior analyst for Catholic Healthcare West, was injured more seriously and spent weeks after the crash in a coma. She had internal lacerations to her spleen, liver, intestines and lungs.

Charlotte continued to bleed “copiously” after surgery and remained unstable a day after the crash. An orthopedic doctor found fractures in her pelvis, ankle and shoulder.

She required additional surgery on Nov. 2 and 4, and needed several blood transfusions. Charlotte developed complications including E. coli pneumonia, staph infection and suffered “mild cognitive deficits,” such as impaired memory.

To date, her medical costs have totaled $1.2 million, according to the claim.

Her husband, Brent, a carpet and tile cleaner for Campbell’s Steam Pro, also suffered numerous injuries, including fractures to his face, leg and foot, bleeding in his brain and a partial tear in his shoulder.

So far, Brent’s medical costs have totaled $149,000.

To supplement their case against the town, Phoenix-based injury law firm Levenbaum & Cohen obtained an expert opinion from forensic transportation engineer Robert Bleyl.

In Bleyl’s opinion, the use of traffic barricades to separate traffic on Guadalupe Road was a cause of the crash and would have blocked Urie’s view of distant oncoming traffic, according to the claim.

“Absent the view-obstructing, massive, vertical panels, Urie would have had an unrestricted view of the motorcycle and, in all likelihood, she would not have made her turn,” Bleyl said.

The town does not comment on pending claims, but Town Manager Collin DeWitt briefly mentioned the case in a recent e-mail to a resident.

Greg Land, who lives near Higley and Pecos roads, had complained to town officials about bright streetlights casting excessive light on his property.

DeWitt responded by explaining the town must “battle with a balance of industry safety standards and the notion of quality of life for those that live on town streets.”

Any variation from those standards puts the town in a “position of increased risk and liability,” DeWitt said.

“As a case study, we were just served with a ($7 million) claim for a recent auto accident that the town was not involved in except that it occurred on one of our streets,” DeWitt wrote. “If all of the required standards for driver protection are not followed, the town is without defense.”

The town has until June 21 to review and respond to the claim. If the town refuses to settle, the Kapustiks could file a formal lawsuit.