SANTA ANA (CNS) – A man paralyzed in a highway collision in Southland triggered by a hiker on the precinct has reached a $ 11 million settlement with the Republican Party of California. This agreement appears to be the first of its kind in the nation, plaintiff’s attorney said today.
Richard Ruehle, who lives in the Inland Empire with his wife and six children, was paralyzed after the collision on August 5, 2016 on the Riverside (91) Freeway on the border between Counties Orange and Riverside.
Ruehle was riding a group of other bikers when the hiker’s vehicle hit him, said lawyer Chris Aitken.
The county worker had spent the morning knocking on doors collecting data from voters for Eric Linder’s failed 2016 re-election campaign and was returning to work after lunch when the collision happened, Aitken said.
The unlicensed driver, whose name was not published, could not check his mirrors and was “inattentive” when changing lanes, said Aitken.
The attorneys working on the case took a “deep dive” into who the man was working for at the time and found a “link not only with the campaign but also with the California Republican Party,” he said.
“It really took a lot of discovery to understand your data collection efforts,” said Aitken. “This particular campaign was known as a targeted campaign. As a result, the State party was essentially dissatisfied with the campaign’s data collection and so it joined the campaign to improve the data collection process.”
The state GOP denied that the man worked for the California Republican Party.
“In 2016, a California Congregation campaign employee was involved in a car accident that permanently affected the plaintiff’s life,” said Ashlee Titus, general counsel of the CRP. “The person involved in the car accident was not an employee of the California Republican Party. The settlement was paid for in full by our insurance company, the travel insurance company, and not by the party. We continue to wish all those involved the best. ”
Aitken said the data collected was used by the campaign and the CRP.
He predicted the deal will push political organizations to scrutinize employees more, including ensuring that their workers are licensed drivers.
“It is important that we have licensed drivers who do business,” said Aitken. “While we fully appreciate the California Republican Party who are providing the $ 11 million to compensate this family, we believe that political parties should be accountable in the same way as other companies.”
Ruehle was an active hiker and nature lover who had a passion for martial arts before the collision, Aitken said. He has limited ways to use his arms but will never walk again, the lawyer said.
“He has tremendous needs in terms of grooming,” said Aitken. “He needs full-time care.”
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