By Stacy Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly
Last week, the estate of Run Sen Liu settled with the City of Seattle for $2.75 million. Liu, who was an International District restaurateur, suffered life-threatening injuries while crossing South Jackson Street on foot in February 2007. The 57-year-old immigrant from China was hit by a car in a marked crosswalk.
Liu suffered traumatic brain injury and was in a coma for two years before he died. His medical bills are reportedly more than $1 million.
Thereafter, his widow and daughter filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Seattle, alleging that the City was negligent in maintaining the roadway. In late December 2009, the Washington Court of Appeals ruled that a jury may decide whether a city is partially at fault for the accident.<!–more–>
The family was represented by attorney James Buckley, from Buckley & Associates. Evidence was presented showing that the City was aware of the dangers posed by the intersection where Liu was struck but did nothing to remedy the problem.
The 10th and Jackson intersection was considered one of the most dangerous spots in Chinatown/ID for pedestrians. An elderly woman died after trying to cross the street in June 2002. The city removed the crosswalk months after Liu’s accident.
The case was supposed to go to trial this April, but the City settled. Liu’s family signed the City’s Release of All Claims and Hold Harmless Agreement, agreeing to a compromise that is not to be “construed as an admission of liability on the part of the City of Seattle.”
The night of the accident
Liu was part of a group of partners that opened L.A. Café, a restaurant inside the Pacific Rim Center in Chinatown/International District in 2007 (the restaurant was later sold.).
The night Liu was hit, he and his family parked their car at the 10th and Jackson intersection, across the street from L.A. Café. Liu went in to get takeout dinner for his family. His then 27-year-old daughter and wife were sitting inside the car when they reportedly heard a thud. Liu was found lying on the street.
A medic told one officer that Liu was stable, but had serious injuries. The officer noted in his report that Liu’s injuries had “increased in severity” by the time he arrived at Harborview.
The driver of the 1990 Chevy Lumina, 43-year-old Peter Brown, from Kent, was ticketed for not having proof of insurance (though he was insured) and for failing to yield the right of way to a pedestrian in a crosswalk. There was no indication that he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, according to police spokesperson Debra Brown (no relation to Peter Brown), and he was not taken into custody.
According to the police report, the driver said he was traveling about 35 mph.
The family received an undisclosed amount from Brown’s insurance carrier, Liberty Mutual.
For four years, Liu was a handyman for the offices of the Northwest Asian Weekly and its sister paper, the Seattle Chinese Post. He immigrated to the United States nine years prior to the accident.
Liu’s family members and Buckley declined to comment. ♦
Stacy Nguyen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.