Lawsuit: Stray dog crossing highway led to collision
Ryan Summerlin April 2, 2014
When an Aspen dog named Moses crossed Highway 82 near the Aspen Golf Club by himself in 2012, it set off a chain of events that led to a motorist’s injuries, according to a lawsuit filed last week in Pitkin County District Court.
Moses is described as white and fluffy, a member of the Great Pyrenees breed. The suit says that at 4:10 p.m. on March 28, 2012, he crossed the highway just east of the intersection with Maroon Drive and adjacent to property belonging to his owners, Archer and Sandra Bishop. When he crossed the road, a vehicle traveling downvalley stopped to let him by, forcing other cars behind the first vehicle to come to a stop, including a Honda Accord driven by Lupe Alvarado-Romero, of Garfield County.
The suit states that a Volkswagen Eurovan driven by Cathleen Miller, of Basalt, then rear-ended the Honda, which had been stopped “for at least several seconds” before the crash. Alvarado-Romero was injured in the accident and taken by ambulance to Aspen Valley Hospital for treatment of unspecified injuries, according to the suit.
The suit was filed Wednesday by Aspen attorney Jeffrey Wertz on behalf of Alvarado-Romero and her husband, Francisco Hernandez. The Bishops are named as defendants in the suit, as are Miller and her husband, Scott C. Miller. The document asks for a jury trial and seeks damages, alleging negligence.
Phone messages left with the Bishops and the Millers were not returned immediately Sunday afternoon.
The speed limit on the section of highway where the accident occurred is 35 mph, the suit says. The weather was pleasant and the roadway was dry at the time of the accident.
The document states that Cathleen Miller had a driver’s license restriction requiring her to wear corrective vision lenses but that she was not wearing them at the time of the collision. The suit says that an Aspen policeman issued her a ticket for “following too closely.” She received slight injuries in the crash, the suit says.
But, the suit adds, Alvarado-Romero “has suffered bodily injuries that have persisted from the day of the crash to this day.” The Millers, whose Eurovan was heavily damaged and later sold for scrap value, already have compensated Hernandez for damages to the Honda, the suit continues.
It also claims that Cathleen Miller was driving too fast without regard for traffic and the safety of those in her path. It says she apologized to Alvarado-Romero for having caused the accident.
As for Moses, the Aspen Police Department report describes the cause of the crash as “due to an unknown dog crossing the road.” Moses had a history of roaming from the Bishops’ property unattended and off-leash, the suit says.
“The Bishops knew or should have known that their dog had a tendency to roam off (their property) when not restrained by leash or proper enclosure,” the suit states.