The Coast News Group
The parties involved in a wrongful death lawsuit related to the 2020 death of local cyclist Jennings Worley, pictured above, have started settlement negotiations, according to court filings. Courtesy photo
The parties involved in a wrongful death lawsuit related to the 2020 death of local cyclist Jennings Worley, pictured above, have started settlement negotiations, according to court filings. Courtesy photo
CitiesCrimeCrimeEncinitasEncinitas FeaturedNews

Settlement talks begin in lawsuit over cyclist’s death in Encinitas

ENCINITAS — Three years after cyclist Jennings Worley was fatally struck by a large commercial truck while riding his bike along Leucadia Boulevard, the parties in his family’s wrongful death lawsuit have entered settlement negotiations, recent court filings show. 

In November 2020, Worley, 62, was cycling westbound in a designated bike lane near the intersection of Leucadia Boulevard and Moonstone Court when the driver of a PODS Enterprises moving truck attempted to make a right turn, colliding with Worley and causing severe injuries that led to his death, according to court documents. 

Worley, an avid cyclist, was a leading scientist fighting to cure cystic fibrosis, according to his obituary

At the intersection of the accident, Shea Homes had recently constructed the Alia community, a 13-unit residential development in Encinitas. As part of the project, Shea Homes converted a private driveway into Moonstone Court, a public access road for residents to access their homes.

According to the lawsuit, the bike lane along Leucadia Boulevard was separated from the road by a solid white line and bollards leading up to the intersection, forcing vehicles turning right onto Moonstone Court to cut across the bikeway.

“(These) dangerous conditions created a trap that a reasonably careful person would not notice or anticipate as being dangerous, since the lack of dashed lines, and presence of bollards/stanchions created a false sense of safety while operating a bicycle in the bikeway while at the same time, depriving automobiles adequate opportunity to merge into the bikeway to turn right onto Moonstone Court,” the complaint alleges.

Dr. Jennings Worley bike memorial
Shortly after his death, Jennings Worley’s bike was adorned with flowers and personal items at the intersection of Leucadia Boulevard and Moonstone Court in Encinitas. File photo

In response to the allegations, attorneys for Shea Homes argued the homebuilding company played no role in creating a dangerous condition where the fatal collision occurred, instead claiming the city’s striping contractor, Statewide Stripes, had restriped the bike lane and replaced stanchions near the intersection four months prior to Worley’s death.

“Shea played no role in creating the condition, and it did not undertake the job of redesigning the bicycle lane or reconfiguring the bollards along Leucadia Boulevard,” Shea’s attorneys said.

Teresa Worley, Jennings’ wife and the administrator of his estate, filed a wrongful death lawsuit in February 2021 against PODS Enterprises and the company’s driver, Epigmenio Serrato. In an amended complaint filed in August 2021, the plaintiffs’ named Shea Homes and the City of Encinitas as additional defendants, alleging negligence and strict liability.

The following month, PODS and Serrato filed a cross-complaint against the city, Shea Homes and Statewide Stripes. The city and Shea subsequently filed cross-claims against each other. 

Despite three years of legal finger-pointing and numerous counterclaims, the Worley family filed a notice of conditional settlement on April 12, and the court generated a notice of dismissal in the case on April 19. 

Ricardo Baca, an attorney representing the City of Encinitas, told The Coast News all the parties have started the process of “reaching a global settlement” in the lawsuit.

“Nothing is finalized, but the talks have begun,” Baca said, who would not discuss any other details about the case.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs and other co-defendants did not respond to repeated requests for comment. No additional information is available on possible settlement terms. 

A civil jury trial was scheduled to begin on April 28. 

1 comment

[email protected] May 2, 2023 at 11:11 am

Thanks for the informative article. No doubt this is the first of a series of lawsuits that the City will have to settle over bike lane constructs that went against the strong recommendations of cyclist groups and other experts.

Leave a Comment