State Ordered to Pay Damages in Crash

The state Department of Transportation has been ordered to pay more than $1 million in damages to a couple who were injured in a 1994 motorcycle crash at a three-way intersection in Oak View, attorneys said Thursday.

The damages were awarded by a Ventura County jury Wednesday following a two-week trial in which attorneys for Anthony Smith, 53, and his wife, Frances, 48, argued the intersection was dangerous and has been the scene of more than 25 crashes since 1994.

The Smiths, who live in Oak View, each suffered serious leg injuries that required several surgeries, their attorneys said.

The couple were struck March 11, 1994, when Ruby Collins, also of Oak View, failed to yield the right of way to Anthony Smith, who was driving his motorcycle through the intersection of California 33, Santa Ana Boulevard and Ojai Drive.

Collins, who was driving a car and failed to stop before making a left-hand turn, agreed to an undisclosed settlement before trial, said Arthur Liberty, an attorney for the Ventura firm representing the Smiths.

The Smiths sued the state, though, claiming the intersection should have had a left-turn arrow. The jury found the state to be 30% responsible for the crash and assessed damages for pain and suffering and economic losses, Liberty said.

Attorney Richard Barnett for the California Department of Transportation was not at his office Thursday and was not immediately available to comment, said a secretary in his Los Angeles office. The state is expected to appeal.

The intersection currently does not have a left-turn signal, Liberty said.

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