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PG&E to Pay $5M in Wrongful Death Suit

By Jason Beahm | Last updated on

Lisa Bernstein, whose daughter was killed in a accident with a Pacific Gas & Electric truck in 2006, has agreed to a $5 million settlement. Mary Bernstein and her boyfriend Robert Conway were killed when a PG&E truck slammed into several stopped cars on an off-ramp of the California Interstate 280.

John Mayfield, the driver of the truck, was a diabetic and claimed that he blacked out due to a faulty insulin injector, which cased a blood sugar level drop. Mayfield pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter and was sentenced to three years in prison. Conway's family settled with PG&E for an undisclosed amount. 

"I was unwilling to let Mary's death go unnoticed," Bernstein said. Now, "I think Mary would approve because she really loved people and this agreement will make the roads safer for people....Five million is still nothing, but hopefully PG&E will take safety a little more seriously."

A PG&E spokesman said, "Our sympathies go out to all involved, and their families. We accept full responsibility for this accident. This was our employee driving our truck on company business."

Bernstein must now move on and decide what is next. She hopes to focus her attention on a piece of legislation that would require California businesses with a fleet or more than 25 cars to be automatically notified when a driver receives a ticket or gets in an accident. She is also pushing for another law that would require diabetic drivers to test their blood sugar before getting on the road. Finally Bernstein plans to use the settlement to start the Mary Bernstein Foundation for Alternative Energy Sources for Our Cities, a nonprofit.

7/19/10 Editor's note: When we initially ran this post we inadvertently stated that Conway's family settled a civil suit with the driver, John Mayfield. We've since corrected this post to reflect that the Conway family settled with PG&E for an undisclosed amount. 

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