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CAJON PASS — A noted Los Angeles personal injury law firm announced Tuesday that it has filed more than $60 million worth of government claims against Caltrans on behalf of the families of three teenagers involved in a fatal crash in June.
The claims filed by the Girardi Keese law firm allege that an unsafe interchange in the Cajon Pass was a main factor in the crash, which killed two local teens and injured three others on June 24.
The teens were headed to the beach, families said, when their vehicle was struck by a dump truck that ran a stop sign at the interchange of Highway 138 and Interstate 15. Nicole Lyle, 18, and John Cabrera, 16, were killed in the collision that destroyed Lyle’s blue PT Cruiser. Mikey Baker, Shane Gretzner and David Castaneda all suffered injuries in the crash.
A news release from the Girardi Keese law firm reported that its attorneys filed more than $40 million in claims for the Cabrera family. Claims upwards of a combined $20 million have also been filed for Baker and Gretzner.
The California Government Claim Program processes claims for money or damages against the state and its agencies.
Caltrans spokeswoman Terry Kasinga said Caltrans was aware that claims had been filed but could not comment on any “pending or possible litigation.”
“Our hearts go out to the victims and their families,” Kasinga said. “It was an unfortunate accident.”
According to the release, Baker suffered “severe and disabling injuries” as well as neurological damage, post-traumatic stress disorder and “severe emotional distress in witnessing the deaths of his friends.”
Gretzner’s injuries are listed as “severe and disabling injuries” including sternum, rib cage, and knee injuries; spinal injuries; post-traumatic stress disorder and “emotional distress in witnessing the deaths of his friends,” the release states.
Girardi Keese’s news release states the families believe the crash is a wake-up call to fix the southbound Interstate 15 off-ramp at Highway 138.
“This tragedy could have been prevented,” Girardi Keese attorney David Lira said in the release.
Lira was part of a team that won a multi-million-dollar settlement earlier this year in the case of Bryan Stow, a San Francisco Giants fan who was brutally beaten outside Dodger Stadium.
The Castaneda family filed a lawsuit against the dump truck driver and the trucking company on July 2 through a separate law firm.
Anneli Fogt can be reached at AFogt@VVDailyPress.com or 760-951-6276. Follow her on Twitter @DP_anneli_fogt.