It seems bizarre that a man could be awarded millions of dollars after striking a wild pig while motorcycling along a road in California, but that’s what happened to Adam Rogers, a 45-year-old resident of Seaside. Rogers was biking along Highway 1 in 2003 when he struck the pig around midnight, whereupon he was thrown from his motorcycle, receiving several debilitating and permanent injuries. A former champion kick boxer and karate instructor, Rogers spent months in a coma after the wreck and is now wheelchair bound. He also undergoes intensive physical therapy to this day and will continue to require a great deal of medical attention for the rest of his life.
The incident seems like just one of those things that happens – a freak accident that’s just as much the pig’s fault as anyone else’s. So why did the jury award Rogers $8.6 million?
After hearing court testimony, the jury in Rogers’ case found California state highway officials to blame for the accident.
“When we began, people said the state can’t be held responsible for a wild animal and, as a general rule, that’s true,” the plaintiff’s attorney told the Silicon Valley Mercury News. “But the jury found that this was a situation the state created itself and then didn’t do anything about.”
Rogers’ attorney argued that the state is responsible for the accident because it knew that some vegetation from an environmental restoration project along the road attracted a growing number of wild pigs, but neglected to do anything about the problem.
It was only after Rogers’ accident that the state erected pig crossing signs to warn motorists. Later, the state hired hunters to thin the pig population in the area.
The state argued that Rogers crashed into the pig because he had a blood alcohol level of .10 at the time of the accident. The jury agreed that Rogers was negligent in that regard, which likely diminished his overall reward, but the jurors believed that the state’s negligence was far greater. Experts demonstrated on the plaintiff’s behalf the difficulty anyone would have seeing wild pigs in the road at midnight.
The court designated about $6.8 million of the reward for Rogers’ future medical bills. Rogers’ wife received $500,000 for “loss of consortium.” The remaining sum covers loss of income, medical expenses already incurred, and other damages.