PORTLAND – The City of Portland and Clackamas County agreed Wednesday to pay more than $9 million to a Gresham woman who was severely brain damaged in a 2010 crash.
Cayla Wilson was 5 months pregnant when a meth-fueled 54-year-old Jack Whiteaker slammed into her on Southeast Jenne Road as she drove home from a job interview.
Wilson's family said the money will help relieve some of the burden as they struggle to care for her after the crash.
Wilson, who was 19 years old at the time, was not expected to survive, but doctors worked to keep her alive in hopes of saving her baby. After six weeks, doctors performed an emergency cesarean section and delivered baby Jaikyla who weighed 3 lbs., 9 oz. and had bleeding in her brain. The baby survived, but not without complications. (Photos at right of Wilson before and after the accident, and her baby daughter.)
Wilson was taken off life support and is now in a permanent vegetative state with limited brain activity.
Greg Kafoury, the Wilson family’s attorney, argued that Clackamas County and the City of Portland were partly to blame for the tragedy that befell their young daughter, and filed a $42 million claim against the bureaus.
Kafoury said Clackamas County didn’t adequately monitor Whiteaker who was on probation for heroin and criminal violence convictions. He also said the city blew it when police twice failed to arrest Whiteaker hours before he slammed into Wilson.
On Wednesday at 4:30 p.m., the jury went into deliberation after weeks of testimony from Wilson’s family and witnesses from the county and city. However, after ten minutes jurors were pulled back and released after all parties agreed to a settlement.
The City of Portland agreed to pay $4.5 million and Clackamas County will pay $4.8 million into a trust set up to care for Wilson and her child.
In January 2012, Whiteaker was found guilty and sentenced to 11 years in prison for driving high on methamphetamine, assault and reckless driving.
“Cayla and our family, we’re all going to get to move forward,” said Natausha Wilson, Cayla’s sister and caregiver. “It’s not going to bring back the piece of my sister I lost, but it will help us to provide her a better life.”