A former champion kick boxer whose life was ruined after he hit a feral pig on Pacific Coast Highway near Carmel has successfully sued the state of California and been awarded $8.6 million by a jury.
Adam Rogers was riding north about 1 am on September 23, 2003 when a wild pig dashed across the road in front of him. The crash left Rogers confined to a wheelchair and mentally impaired. Rogers and his wife sued the California Departments of Transportation, Parks and Recreation and Fish and Game for failing to force the pigs to use a path under the freeway. Rogers attorney argued that the state knew how dangerous the pigs could be to motorists.
The verdict provides $6.8 million to pay for Rogers’ future medical care and $1.8 million to compensate him for the loss of his future earnings. His wife, Kristin Finn, was awarded $500,000 for the loss of her husband’s companionship.
Experts testified that Rogers was traveling between 41 and 59 mph at the time of the accident. His motorcycle did not stop until it had travelled 160 feet from the collision and Rogers was thrown 75 feet.
The state said Rogers crashed because he was drunk. His blood alcohol level was tested to be .09 when he reached a hospital about an hour after the crash. The legal limit is .08. However, one of the firefighters who responded to the accident testified that he did not smell alcohol when he removed Rogers’ helmet.
Rogers’ attorney said that no matter how sober Rogers was he was still going to hit the pig. And, the pig was there in the middle of the road in the middle of the night because the state of California refused to control wild pigs. The attorney argued that the state knew pigs were crossing the highway to eat vegetation in an environmental restoration project.
Two other motorists testified at the trial that they had also collided with wild pigs along the same stretch of road. A limousine driver testified that he struck a pig near the scene of Rogers’ accident in May, 2003. The pig weighed 400 pounds but moved too quickly for the limo driver to avoid it. The pig significantly damaged the 40 foot long, 12,000 pound limousine and survived the crash. Sheriff’s deputies shot the pig.
After Rogers’ accident, the state posted a pig-crossing caution sign and hired hunters to control the local pig population.