City Desk

Cyclist Wants $70,000 for Capitol Hill Dooring

Dooring—the unexpected opening of a car door in the path of a bike—can be the bane of urban cyclists. Now one biker who says he was injured when a taxi door opened in front of him is suing the driver, the cab company—and the federal government.

Eastern Market resident Micah Dammeyer was headed north on 1st Street NE on May 18, 2010, according to his lawsuit, when his path was suddenly blocked by an open cab door. Dammeyer went flying over his handlebars and landed on his head, injuring his chest, head, and neck, according to court documents.

Dammeyer's lawsuit, filed yesterday, names cab driver Abdullahi M. Horri and cab company United Transit, Inc. as defendants. He's also suing the federal government because the cab's passenger worked for the Department of Homeland Security. Attempts to reach Horri and United Transit failed, while the Department of Justice declined to comment. Dammeyer's lawyer hasn't responded to a request for comment.

To add insult to (literal) injury, Capitol Police found Dammeyer in the hospital after his injury and ticketed him for trying to pass the cab on the right, according to the WashCycle blog.

Bike photo by Shutterstock.

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  • er

    interesting to see how this will turn out.

  • Drez

    He passed on the right? Was the cab pulled to the curb?

  • David

    Cab probably double parked mid street, I've also had them pull in front of me and stop to pick up/drop off.

  • Burnt Orange

    Sadly, it's going to take these kinds of actions to force change.

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  • Brian

    Cyclists in this city need to learn that they have to follow the same traffic laws as automobiles. I don't know how many times I've seen bikers fly thru red lights as busy intersections. I'm all for bicycling instead of driving but know that there are traffic laws for you too!

  • Tom M.

    Sued the Federal Government because the door opener is a DHS employee?? The incident wasn't on grounds or in a facility managed or controled by DHS. I would assume that the DHS authorities do not directly and explictly authorize door opening and closing timing of workers. What's the theory here??

  • DC Voter

    The law suit is a clear indication Mr. Dammeyer suffered serious head and brain injury and lacks full use of his mental capacity.

  • antibozo

    Brian, it was legal for Dammeyer to pass on the right. This is because bicyclists do NOT have to follow all of the same laws as automobiles—they are exempt from some, and subject to some that do not apply to automobiles. One of those D.C. laws allows bicyclists to pass on the left or the right in the same lane as another vehicle:

    1201.3 (b) A person operating a bicycle may overtake and pass other vehicles on the left or right side, staying in the same lane as the overtaken vehicle, or changing to a different lane, or riding off the roadway, as necessary to pass with safety.

    This refrain that cyclists "have to learn that they have to follow the same traffic laws as automobiles" turns up over and over again, and it's always wrong. It would be nice if drivers would actually learn the law. Here's a primer:

  • BJ

    This suit is a waste of everyone's time and energy. I am personally sick and tired of all these cyclists that want to be treated as equals but don't obey the the traffic laws. Everyday you have cyclists blowing through 4-way stop signs. The other day I nearly hit a cyclist for that same reason. When I honked to warn him, he flipped me the bird. I hope Karma takes care of that idiot and he also flies over an opened car door!

  • antibozo

    BJ, so you're saying that since some cyclists blow stop signs, this cyclist, who was fully complying with the law, should have no recourse against someone who illegally opened a door into his path and injured him (i.e. "this suit is a waste of everyone's time")? Would you say that because most drivers don't actually come to a full stop at stop signs, no driver should be able to sue any driver for T-boning him at an intersection? Or would you perhaps agree that people who are obeying the law, regardless of what some of their peers do, should have recourse against those who are not?

  • jen

    antibozo - i'd totally agree with you... except the fact that he's trying to get damages from the fed shows exactly how BS all of this is. if he thinks that the cab and the passenger injured him, fine. but this incident has ZERO to do with the passenger's employer, and thus i have to conclude that the cyclist is milking this. and i say this being the daughter of a plaintiff's attorney who specializes in auto accidents and insurance law.

  • antibozo

    jen: without being privy to the details of the suit, i would refrain from commenting on the merit of the cyclist's claim against the passenger's employer, other than to say i would be surprised if his lawyer would bother making such a claim completely frivolously. It's not as if DHS is defenseless. In any case, even if the case against DHS is pointless, that doesn't make this all "BS".

  • antibozo

    In addition, we should be suspicious of the impartiality of this reporting, since it mentions the citation issued against Dammeyer without mentioning that under D.C. law Dammeyer was behaving lawfully.