Article Courtesy of The Sun
Published May 20, 2019
Palm Beach County jury has awarded $41 million in damages to a former Securities
and Exchange Commission official who suffered severe injuries in a bicycle crash
in his Jupiter neighborhood.
James Schnurr was forced to leave his job as the SEC’s chief accountant in 2016
so he could recover from the April 2016 crash.
Schnurr filed suit in August 2016 against the homeowners association overseeing
Jonathan’s Landing and Jonathan’s Landing Golf Club, Inc. He claimed the
organizations erected two stanchions “which constitute physical obstructions to
cyclists” on the bike trail but failed to provide pavement markings, signage or
other warnings of “their hazardous nature.”
Upon striking one of the stanchions, Schnurr “was ejected from his cycle and hit
the ground, causing him significant and permanent injuries,” his complaint
Stanchions are upright posts, bars, or frames typically connected by chains,
velvet rope or cloth belts to delineate crowd-control boundaries. They are often
used to control the direction of airport security queues or to mark off “red
carpet" entries to nightclubs.
According to news accounts, Schnurr was replaced with an interim chief
accountant in July 2016 while he recovered from the crash. He retired
permanently in November 2016. The watchdog site FederalPay.org reported his 2016
salary as $248,292.
As well as incurring expenses for medical, nursing and rehabilitative care,
Schnurr suffered loss of earnings and the loss of ability to earn money in the
future, according to his complaint.
The association and golf club fought the charges, with the association
contending Schnurr rode his bike “in a careless and negligent manner by failing
to observe where he biked” and “was biking recklessly.”
The jury on Thursday determined all of the parties shared responsibility. The
association was 45 percent negligent because if failed to notify Schurr of the
dangerous conditions while the golf club’s 5 percent negligence contributed to
Schnurr’s loss, injury or damage. The court will determine whether to cut the
$41 million award to reflect how responsibility was distributed, according to
jury instructions filed with the award determination.
Schnurr was found to be 50 percent negligent. The jury awarded Schnurr
$4,800,000 for past hospitalization, medical and nursing care; $12 million for
future hospitalization, medical and nursing care; $750,000 in lost previous
wages; $3.5 million for lost future wages; $10 million for pain and suffering
and loss of enjoyment of life; and $5 million to cover those more pain and
suffering in the future. In addition, Schnurr’s wife Christine was awarded $5
million for loss of her husband’s “comfort, society and attention.”