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Quadriplegic sues other driver, local governments over crash

LOCKPORT - A man who was left a quadriplegic after his motorcycle collided with a pickup in Royalton last year filed a lawsuit last week against the pickup driver.

But the lawsuit by David N. Baier of Mill Road, Royalton, also names Niagara County and the Town of Royalton as co-defendants.

The suit filed by attorney Richard P. Amico of the Rochester office of the Cellino & Barnes law firm asserts that the intersection of Gasport and Bunker Hill roads, where the crash occurred, doesn’t comply with state Department of Transportation design standards.

It doesn’t say how the T-shaped intersection purportedly violates those standards, and Amico did not return a call seeking comment Friday.

“They met the specifications when they were built,” said Michael F. Tracy, county deputy public works commissioner for highways.

He said Gasport is a county road, as is the short western part of Bunker Hill Road up to the intersection with Gasport. East of that, Bunker Hill is a town road.

The crash occurred at about 5:15 p.m. March 26, 2013.

According to the report by Niagara County Sheriff’s Deputy Christopher L. Butts, Baier was southbound on Gasport, making a right turn, and pickup driver Steven M. James, now 41, of Main Street, Barker, was making a left turn from Bunker Hill onto Gasport.

James did not have a stop sign on Bunker Hill.

The lawsuit contends that Baier, now 54, was stopped at the stop sign and was hit by the pickup. Butts’ report doesn’t say that.

It says that James was making a left “when he noticed (Baier) attempting to make a right turn onto Bunker Hill Road. (James) stated that when he was negotiating his left turn, he was close to the line that divides traffic, but did not think he crossed over it.”

James was cited for making an improper left turn. He told Butts that Baier’s motorcycle impacted the left side of the pickup. The deputy was unable to get Baier’s version at the scene, describing him as “conscious but incoherent.”

Also, he was allegedly drunk. Butts said he smelled alcohol on Baier’s breath and decided to arrest him for driving while intoxicated.

Butts later went to Erie County Medical Center in another effort to interview Baier, but Baier refused to take a chemical test to determine his blood alcohol content.

Baier had at least two previous DWI arrests, so this charge would have been a felony, but it was later dismissed.

The report says Baier had a fractured left leg and pain in his left shoulder, but makes no mention of paralysis, although that injury was confirmed by a law enforcement source who was not authorized to speak publicly about the case.