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Lawyers for Hopkins student hit by car file $10M suit

Lawyers for a Johns Hopkins University student who was struck by a car while riding his bicycle last month have filed a $10 million lawsuit against the car’s driver.

Nathan Krasnopoler has been in a coma since the Feb. 26 accident outside Baltimore’s Broadview apartments on University Parkway, where 83-year-old Jeanette Marie Walke lives. The lawsuit, filed Monday in Baltimore City Circuit Court, alleges that Walke cut off Krasnopoler as she attempted to make a right-hand turn onto the Broadview’s driveway.

Krasnopoler, 20, who was wearing a helmet, suffered brain damage, two collapsed lungs, a broken collarbone and severe facial burns, among other injuries, the lawsuit states. A police spokesman said an investigation of the accident is ongoing.

Police said in the days following the accident that no charges would be brought against Walke before backing away from the statement. Andrew G. Slutkin, Krasnopoler’s lawyer, said his client’s family contacted him after the initial police statement.

“We wanted to move forward with our own investigation as soon as possible,” said Slutkin, of Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White LLC in Baltimore. “I’m concerned that the police may have rushed to judgment before completing the investigation.”

Slutkin said his firm has already talked to a dozen witnesses and has an accident reconstruction specialist working on the case. The firm did similar work when it filed a 2009 lawsuit on behalf of the family of a Baltimore man killed when his bicycle collided with a large truck. That case was settled before trial; police found the cyclist, John R. Yates, was at fault.

Yates’ death led to the General Assembly passing a law last year requiring vehicles to stay at least three feet away when passing a bicycle, which is cited in Krasnopoler’s lawsuit. That law was designed for an incident like this, Slutkin said.

“We shouldn’t have to police the police,” he said.

Krasnopoler was in the bike lane riding northbound on University Parkway when Walke passed him as both approached 39th Street, according to the lawsuit. Krasnopoler ran into the passenger side of Walke’s car as she attempted to make her turn; the collision propelled Krasnopoler over the car and he became pinned under it when “Walke failed to timely stop her vehicle,” according to the lawsuit.

Walke failed to turn off her car after the collision, causing burns where Krasnopoler’s face and arms were trapped against the engine, the lawsuit states. Paramedics had to lift Walke’s car in order to remove Krasnopoler, who suffered a cardiac arrest on his way to the hospital, according to the complaint.

Slutkin said his client suffered no brain injury as a direct result of the crash, but that it was the lack of oxygen to the brain from the collapsed lungs that caused the damage.

A message left at a phone number belonging to Walke’s address was not returned.