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Today, while reading a news report, I remembered a tragic death in Pinellas County a few years ago. I represented the family of a wonderful women who was killed while trying to walk across US 19 in Palm Harbor. She was returning home from work and was crossing the roadway at an intersection which did not have a crosswalk or traffic signal. It was in a stretch of US 19 without any nearby crosswalks or street lighting.

Florida law protects governments from many lawsuits based on negligent roadway design. The governmental unit gets to hide behind what is called its “planning function.” This is especially true when the victim is a pedestrian trying to walk along or cross a road.

The news report from the Palm Beach Post expresses the attitude of the road planners and builders, an attitude sadly supported by the courts in our state. “It wasn’t a pedestrian road — it was a vehicle road.” I say every road is a pedestrian road as well as a vehicle road depending on its location and use by the people. Some consideration should be given to the expected or actual use of roadways by pedestrians.

PORT ST. LUCIE — Family members of a woman struck and killed Jan. 26 on Green River Parkway notified local officials this week they plan to file a wrongful-death lawsuit against Port St. Lucie or St. Lucie County for failing to extend sidewalks along the stretch where Lisa Vichlenski died, baby stroller in tow.

Mayor Bob Minsky said it’s illogical to blame the city for the tragedy and said he’s concerned the man charged with the hit-and-run crash had seven previous DUI arrests in Florida and New York.

“I think they have a better case against the court system,” Minsky said. “I have a hard time figuring out how we’re responsible. That’s like somebody jumping off the roof of a building and the family suing the guy that built the building.

“It wasn’t a pedestrian road — it was a vehicle road.”

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