City Finalizes $15 Million Settlement for Svanemyr Family in Holly Park Hit-and-Run


The City of San Francisco has finalized a $15.1 million settlement with the surviving family of Christy Svanemyr, the woman who was killed in the heartbreaking 2013 hit-and-run incident involving a Recreation and Parks Department truck in Holly Park.

KCBS has the details:

The family of a 35-year-old woman who was run over and killed by a city employee driving on the grass in San Francisco’s Holly Park last September has been issued a settlement by the city of $15.1 million.

Vegar and Isa Svanemyr, the husband and toddler of Christine “Christy” Svanemyr, will receive the settlement as a result of a claim filed in November 2013.

The settlement was approved by the city’s Recreation and Park Commission in July and adopted by the city’s Board of Supervisors Tuesday.

The funds will be paid to the family in three installments.

PHOTO: Incident scene at Holly Park on Sept. 5, 2013. Inset, Christy Svanemyr

16 thoughts on “City Finalizes $15 Million Settlement for Svanemyr Family in Holly Park Hit-and-Run

  1. Sure hope the family, meaning the husband and daughter are doing as well as can be expected. Please send our Bernal wishes and concern.

  2. I feel bad and all but $15M taxpayer dollars? Really? She was a yoga teacher or something thats hardly a lifetime of wages is it? The drunk driver should pay but that just seems obscene.

    • Punitive penalties (as opposed to compensatory) give an organization a “business case” to implement safeguards that would otherwise be considered too expensive. If the city bean counter can chuckle guiltily and say to themselves, “well, if we only pay out $3.5M in settlements, it’s cheaper to run over a young mother every three years than to pay this firm $10M up-front that is selling a system to prevent it.”

      • There are no punitive damages available in cases against public entities in California.
        In this case, the city necessarily calculated its exposure in terms of other damages, as well as costs of litigation.
        The value of the lifetime loss of the love and companionship of a mother, to both her husband and their baby, is something the family could have won in court, in addition to the lost income from her earnings.

  3. Right. Don’t think this happens too often in SF…a drunk employee driving their equipment over a citizen. Not sure there is much negligence on the city’s part, should they do sobriety tests on every employee every day?. Nothing can bring this poor mother back but the SF taxpayer (most of us) paid $15M for what essentially an accident. And an ambulance chasing lawyer prolly got 1/3 of that

      • There was no mention of him being drunk, just careless because his bosses apparently hadn’t made any effort to enforce their rules about driving on the grass.

    • Putting aside the comparative worth issue, this may well have been less than what the city would have been liable for under the law. It seems like an unwinnable case for the city, right? After that, it was just a question of how much. So, it doesn’t help to think about it as a gift or discretionary spending.

  4. No. The driver was deranged with grief over the death of his own daughter in a car wreck on I 5 earlier in the year. He was never described as drunk. He was hostile toward females though, as I can attest, because he drove very close to me once while I was walking in Holly Park, and he had an angry grimace on his face. I wish I had turned him in. He forced me off the path or he would have run me over.

  5. Art, why is this unwinnable for the city? It was an accident that boils down to one guy driving a truck. What is the law that says $15M should be paid? It’s like the rule that we give homeless people cell phones with my tax dollars. I just don’t understand it. If you ran over someone with your car I promise you it wouldn’t cost you or your insurance company even a 10th of that.

    • I assure you that if you negligently run over and kill a young mother in front of her infant, you and/or your insurance company will likely pay $15 Million or more. (However, most of us..but not the city… don’t even have $1M worth of insurance, and the insurance company only pays the policy limits, leaving you on the hook for the rest of it). I’ve itemized the kinds of damages available above. This is not a giveaway, the city probably thought it ran the risk of losing even more if it went to trial.

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