Toledo man sues ODOT over lost leg

LINCOLN COUNTY — A Toledo man who lost his left leg in a car accident two years ago filed a lawsuit against the Oregon Department of Transportation. Jared Verardo filed the suit March 7 for more than $2 million for past and future medical bills and lost income when he couldn’t work, as well as for his pain and suffering.

Verardo was driving home from work around 7 p.m. on March 16, 2017, headed east on Highway 20 near Ellmaker State Wayside, when he fell asleep at the wheel. He crossed the highway and hit a metal guardrail that he maintains was “an obsolete and unsafe guardrail system which did not comply with federal highway administration standards,” according to the lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, ODOT had a responsibility to maintain the guardrail in a safe and proper manner. Because that guardrail was not properly maintained, the lawsuit alleges, the rail penetrated the front of Verardo’s car from the front driver’s side, severed the man’s left leg and continued to cut through the vehicle.

A letter from Verardo’s attorney, Richard Serpe, said he assumes the guardrail was replaced and the guardrail in the accident is now in the possession of ODOT.

“Because this guardrail is evidence that is critical to our investigation, we seek your assistance in locating the guardrail that was removed from the accident scene,” he wrote to ODOT officials in a March 27, 2017 letter.

Serpe also asked for photos ODOT agents took at the scene of the accident.

The lawsuit was filed in the Lincoln County Circuit Court, and a court date was not immediately available. Serpe practices in the state of Virginia and, according to an employee at his law practice, was on a business trip and was not immediately available for comment. The Oregon Department of Transportation similarly declined to comment.


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