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Woman hit by cable car at ‘confusing’ crosswalk. The payout: $11M

A cable car rides along a hilly street
A Muni cable car running north along Hyde Street crosses Chestnut Street in San Francisco’s Russian Hill. | Source: George Kelly/The Standard

A San Francisco woman has won a payout of $11 million after she was hit by a historic cable car at a crosswalk and suffered life-threatening injuries.

Ruth Owades filed a lawsuit against the city’s transit agency, alleging she suffered a traumatic brain injury, spinal fractures, and other injuries when she was hit on Dec. 28, 2022, at Hyde and Chestnut streets in Russian Hill.

According to the complaint, filed last year in March at San Francisco Superior Court, Owades was walking in a marked crosswalk that was “confusing, misleading, and dangerous to pedestrians” when the cable car hit her at around 5:23 p.m.

“Pedestrians, drivers and operators of cable cars are confused by the intersection and crosswalk as well as the signs, markings and traffic controls at the collision site,” the lawsuit states.

A cable car rides along a hilly street
Ruth Owades was walking in the marked crosswalk seen here when the cable car hit her at around 5:23 p.m. on Dec. 28, 2022. | Source: George Kelly/The Standard

Owades was found in the street and taken to a hospital for treatment of life-threatening injuries, with police investigators responding to the scene, according to a KRON4 report.

The complaint sought damages for medical expenses, lost earnings, and pain and suffering. Owades and her lawyers did not respond to requests for comment.

In a closed session Tuesday, the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency’s board of directors also voted to approve the $11 million payout and a $5.5 million settlement for a separate lawsuit filed by Mei Yu Lin. That lawsuit alleges personal injury due to operator negligence after a fall. The SFMTA deferred comment to the City Attorney’s Office.

“We believe the proposed settlement is an appropriate resolution,” City attorney spokesperson Jen Kwart said.