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Teen, kin awarded $9.1M for accident

Teen, kin awarded $9.1M for accident

He was badly hurt in 2004 in Mountain View crosswalk

A Pima County jury awarded a Tucson teenager and his parents more than $9.1 million Tuesday, more than two years after he was struck in a crosswalk outside Mountain View High School.

After deliberating eight hours over two days, the jury said Pima County, which operates the road, was 20 percent at fault for the accident, meaning taxpayers are responsible for about $1.8 million of the judgment.

The driver who struck Talin Rogers was 79 percent responsible, and the teenager himself was 1 percent responsible.

Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said he will have to meet with the Pima County Attorney's Office to decide if an appeal should be filed.

It's unclear at this point how much of the $1.8 million county obligation would be covered by insurance, Huckelberry said.

"It's a high verdict, but I don't know where it ranks in terms of the highest ever," Huckelberry said.

Rogers was walking from Mountain View to a nearby seminary on Oct. 1, 2004, when he was struck by Judith Ealey, then 59.

Rogers, then 15, suffered life-threatening injuries and spent nearly seven weeks in a coma and three months in a rehabilitation center.

According to a traffic study the county did after Rogers was hit, nearly 900 people crossed the area on West Linda Vista Boulevard in front of the school each day.

In response to a petition signed by thousands of residents, the Pima County Board of Supervisors voted to lower the speed limit from 45 to 25 mph near the high school three months after the crash. In addition, the crosswalk was equipped with a red-light signal, requiring cars to stop for pedestrians.

Rogers once an avid soccer player, now has problems with his motor skills and is in special-education classes at Mountain View, said attorney Ron Mercaldo, who, along with Tony Wiggins, represents Rogers.

While disappointed the county wasn't held more responsible, Mercaldo said Rogers' parents, Julie and Frank, "are glad that at least Talin has some money set aside for when he gets older."

The family intends to meet with probate attorneys to set up a trust fund for Talin Rogers, Mercaldo said.

Talin Rogers was awarded $8,233,500, Mercaldo said. Julie Rogers was awarded $640,000 and Frank Rogers was awarded $270,000.

Mercaldo said the county refused to settle the case. Huckelberry said the case wasn't settled because the county can recommend against proposed school and church locations, but ultimately has no control over where such facilities are built.

● Contact reporter Kim Smith at 573-4241 or kimsmith@azstarnet.com.

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