A freak incident that paralyzed a 36-year-old mother of two in 2016 may cost the city some big bucks. On Aug. 16 2016 Cui Ying Zhou sat on a park bench in North Beach’s Washington Square Park, while her two daughters, ages 5 and 9, played nearby. But tragedy struck when a massive, 100-pound tree branch from a Canary Island pine fell on Zhou, fracturing her skull and breaking her spine into two pieces. Despite months in the hospital, it’s not expected that Zhou will ever be able to walk again.
The city immediately came under fire for not properly pruning its park trees’ branches, and arborists were deployed to parks citywide to examiner other trees that could cause injury to parkgoers. The family’s attorney, who helped them file a suit two months after the incident, alleged that branches had been dropped on the Washington Square Park playground in both 2008 and 2009. But officials from the Recreation and Parks Department said the pine had been assessed as recently as 2010 and was deemed healthy.
Two years later, the settlement is nearing a conclusion. On Tuesday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors will vote on whether to approve a $14,500,00 settlement for Zhou, her husband Jian Cong Tan, and her daughters Angelina Tan and Arosia Tan. The money will be granted to the family in addition to nearly $70,000 raised through a GoFundMe shortly after the incident. The expenses of such an injury are no doubt enormous; Zhou spent a significant amount of time in rehab, and her husband had to leave his job to take care of the girls.
The personal settlement case will be one of the largest civil suits in city history.
Update, Oct. 2: The Board of Supervisors approved the settlement.