In Civil Court, Specious Claims Used to Defend Trucker Who Killed Le Moullac

The attorney representing the truck driver who killed Amelie Le Moullac while she was riding her bike now says she was to blame because she was wearing earbuds at the time.

Amelie Le Moullac. Photo: Voce Communications

Even though the SFPD clearly faulted Gilberto Alcantar for killing Le Moullac at Folsom and Sixth Streets in August 2013, District Attorney George Gascon declined to file charges, and the trucking company that employed Alcantar is fighting a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court.

As reported by KQED’s Bryan Goebel (Streetsblog SF’s first editor), the attorney defending Alcantar and Daylight Foods, his employer, is using the same victim-blaming false claims that an SFPD sergeant made. The defense attorney also asserted that Le Moullac was to blame for her own death because she was biking with earbuds, even though a witness countered that claim:

In his opening statements, Alcantar’s attorney, Brent Anderson, alleged Le Moullac was wearing earbuds and was distracted. A photo displayed in court showed a piece of Le Moullac’s helmet found at the scene tangled in what Alcantar’s attorney said were earbuds.

That allegation was disputed by [a] Muni driver, who testified the helmet was “intact” and Le Moullac did not have any buds in her ears.

Anderson claimed the truck slowed to 7 mph before turning onto Sixth Street, and alleged Le Moullac was riding “two times as fast” and “caught the truck, and was passing it on the right, while the truck was making a right.”

“Those were the choices that she made,” Anderson told jurors. “We think it is unfair to blame Mr. Alcantar for this accident.”

Anderson said bicyclists have an “obligation” to pass on the left of a right-turning vehicle, which is good safety advice but not actually the law, according to the California Vehicle Code.

Once again, the SFPD already determined that Alcantar made an illegal right turn in front of Le Moullac — a clear violation of the law. The Le Moullac family’s attorney also claimed Alcantar didn’t use a turn signal, though Anderson disputed that.

Image: KTVU

It appears impossible that Le Moullac could have passed on the left, since Alcantar apparently cut her off to make the turn. As Bike East Bay instructor Robert Prinz put it, “Would a car driver be expected to yield to another driver turning right across their path from one of the middle lanes? The same situation applies for bikes.”

“She didn’t have a chance. It was unavoidable for her — but very avoidable for Mr. Alcantar,” said William Veen, the attorney for the Le Moullac family, according to KQED.

The earbud argument is especially specious. Whether or not Le Moullac was wearing earbuds, the video made it clear that Alcantar was guilty of violating her right of way.

The desperation of the claims used to defend Alcantar in this situation emphasizes how badly the legal system fails victims like Le Moullac, given that charges were never brought in such an egregiously clear case. Instead, the cards are stacked in favor of absolving lethal and law-breaking drivers, and pinning the blame on vulnerable users instead.

As the Le Moullac family’s attorneys told KQED, a civil lawsuit is “their last chance for justice.”

  • Sprague

    For the sake of the victim, her family and friends, and all those affected by this preventable tragedy, I hope that justice is served. Motorists need to be more mindful of their potential to kill and maim and drive with greater caution. But until that happens, far more “protected” bicycle lanes without dangerous “mixing zones” (just prior to intersections) are needed.

  • GetHubNub

    They didn’t question the Satanist musician riding late at night on bad streets and lighting who I believe clearly had ear buds that prevented him from avoiding an accident with a city street cleaner. They didn’t want a trial to question his own negligence so they handed him $3.5 million for what were highly questionable injuries to provide that amount of money. He had a few broken ribs and things that weren’t at all supporting that amount of money.

    Politics runs these judgment awards, this lady had too much beauty and class for San Francisco to bear. I believe there are possible kick backs for city attorney officials who hand out large sums, that the attorneys work out a deal to give them part of the money. That’s the only thing that can explain a $3.5 million pay off for such a negligent bicyclist.

  • Alicia

    What musician are you referring to? Got a link to an article about that case?

  • BBnet3000

    Until and long after that happens, protected infrastructure is needed.

  • Richard Mlynarik

    If there’s one person the City Attorney’s office is in cahoots with, it is SATAN.

    Fun fact: Satan actually only demanded $2.5 million for inflicting the stigmatic so-called “injuries” that are the Corporal Marks of the Antichrist. (I found this by doing a Public Records Request thanks to the ironically named Sunshine Ordinance, which really is about bringing about The Unending Night of Pitch Black Torment by undermining the natural healthy flow of sacks full of Christian cash.) It was the City Attorney himself who threw in another million in the hope of securing himself a more powerful position in service to His Black Majesty among the lesser daemons of the underworld, including lordship over the Secret Bicycle Cabal.

  • Richard Mlynarik

    No dangerous “mixing zones”?
    We’re going to ban all right turns everywhere?
    Huzzah!

  • Bobby500

    I thought the rule about merging right into a bike lane when making a right turn doesn’t apply to a long vehicle like a truck that needs to make a wide radius turn.

    A bus or truck has to make such a turn from further left, and that allows for the possibility of a car or bike that is moving faster trying to pass it on the right, if they do not make a judgement that the vehicle is turning right.

  • gneiss

    You would be incorrect. Regardless of the size of a vehicle, nothing absolves the responsibility of the turning motorist from merging into a bike lane or insuring that it is clear before turning across it. Please read CVC 22107.

    Bear in mind that this truck driver also failed to signal a right turn. This is a common error that too many people make, and that the police fail to write tickets for, because they themselves quite frequently ignore it. Honestly, if more people used their turn signals 100 feet prior to a turn (as they are legally required to do) then we would have far fewer of these types of conflicts.

  • Bobby500

    gneiss, you misunderstood me. I didn’t say that drivers should not look to ensure their path is clear before turning, nor that they should not indicate turns.

    What I said that was that the law that requires vehicles to merge right into a bike lane prior to making a right turn cannot reasonably apply to a vehicle that needs to make wide radius turns. They have to do the opposite and move left to make a right turn, which allows for the possibility that a faster road user might try and pass them on the right if they do not realize a right-turn is imminent.

    Every road user should check to ensure their path is clear before undertaking any manoeuvre, naturally.

  • SFnative74

    Absolutely. Simply using turn signals would be one of the most important – and easiest – changes by motorists to improve safety. And it’s just common courtesy. It’s a flick of the wrist to turn it on, and it will even turn itself off when you’re done with the turn. On the same hand, signaling while riding a bike is very useful and courteous in certain situations.

  • NoeValleyJim

    We could have a bicycle signal for the bike lane and a car signal for cars. Each can go at a different time.

  • neroden

    It should be possible to sue the district attorney for obstruction of justice. Unfortunately, the courts have corruptly allowed DAs to get away with murder.

    (In fact, it appears that the current rule is that a DA who brazenly murders someone in broad daylight can simply “decline to prosecute” himself, and becomes untouchable. Would-be murderers, just get elected DA, then you can go on a mass kiling spree and get away with it!)

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Note: Amelie Le Moullac’s mother, Jessie Jewitt, and other Bay Area musicians will perform at a benefit concert on Friday in Palo Alto at 7:30 p.m. Proceeds will go to Amélie’s Angels, “a fund dedicated to bringing the gifts of education, food, clothing, toys, and most importantly love and laughter, to the children of Haiti.” The truck […]