State pays $335k over senator's erratic driving, accident

By Chris Rizo | Jul 7, 2009

Carole Migden (D)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline)-Cash-strapped California will pay $335,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a woman after then-state Sen. Carole Migden rear-ended her, the attorney general's office said.

The San Francisco Democrat rear-ended the woman, capping a 30-mile erratic drive in Solano County in which several motorists called 911 after seeing Midgen weaving in and out of traffic on Interstate 80 and Highway 12 on May 18, 2007, driving at about 80-miles an hour in her state-issued Toyota Highlander.

The wild ride ended when Migden rear-ended a 2005 Honda sedan driven by Ellen Butawan, who was slowing for a red light in Fairfield, Calif.

Butawan, who suffered minor injuries, sued the state and Migden in Solano County Superior Court. The state has agreed to pay $335,000 to settle the lawsuit.

Attorney General Jerry Brown's office defended the lawsuit because the crash happened while Migden was acting within the scope of her state employment, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Tuesday.

The state has already paid more than $25,000 for property damage related to the incident. The settlement comes as state lawmakers are trying to bridge a $ 26.3 billion budget gap.

Migden, who lost her seat last year to fellow Democrat Mark Leno, has suggested that medication she was on for treatment of leukemia might have been to blame for her driving that day.

The California Highway Patrol, in their investigation, listed Migden's cell phone use as a contributing factor to the crash. Her license was suspended for several months. She pleaded no contest to reckless driving, a misdemeanor, and was fined $710.

After Migden lost her Senate seat, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger gave her a $132,000-a-year job on the Integrated Waste Management Board, which meets just once a month.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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