Family of teen hit by car files $16M lawsuit against driver

All parties named in the lawsuit have declined to comment

Viridiana Orozco-Hernandez is recovering at OHSU after being hit by a car in Gresham. (Courtesy: Orozco-Hernandez family)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The family of a girl who suffered critical injuries after being hit while in a crosswalk has filed a $16.5 million lawsuit against 1-800-FLOWERS, a local flower company and one of its drivers.

The lawsuit, first obtained by KOIN 6 News, alleges negligence against Deann Lepoidevin for the April 20 crash that happened in Gresham that injured Viridiana Orozco-Hernandez.

In addition to suing Lepoidevin, the lawsuit targets 1-800-FLOWERS and its authorized franchisee, Nancy’s Floral Inc.

At the time of the crash, Lepoidevin was employed by Nancy’s Floral and was driving a company van, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges Lepoidevin “had a history of seizures, blackouts, epilepsy, and/or ‘déjà vu’ moments,” and had been under a doctor’s care since 1998.

Lepoidevin’s medication was reduced about a week before the April 20 crash, lawsuit states.

The day before the crash, Lepoidevin experienced a seizure.  The lawsuit claims she was not aware of the episode “but was informed about [it] by her husband.” After the episode, Lepoidevin called her doctor and was told to go back to her regular medication dosage.

According to the lawsuit, sometime on April 20, the day of the crash, Lepoidevin “experienced two separate seizures.” There was a passenger with Lepoidevin during both episodes.

After the second of the “déjà vu” moments, the passenger asked Lepoidevin to pull over “but Lepoidevin assured the passenger that she was fine, and continued driving.”

It’s unclear how much time passed between the two episodes and when Orozco-Hernandez was hit.

Gresham police said Orozco-Hernandez and a friend were walking home from school on Southeast 1st Street. The girls reached the intersection of Southeast 1st Street and Northeast Kane Drive.

“Along with a friend, [Orozco-Hernandez] began to cross Kane Drive with a white walk signal,” according to the lawsuit.

Police confirmed Lepoidevin was traveling southbound on Kane Drive towards the intersection where the girls were crossing.

“Despite the fact that the light was red for southbound traffic…and despite the fact that people were lawfully traveling on foot in the marked crosswalk, [Lepoidevin] did not stop, slow, or brake the van,” according to the lawsuit.

Orozco-Hernandez was struck and thrown more than 50 feet “causing catastrophic and permanent injuries,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit claims that Lepoidevin was responsible for the crash and Orozco-Hernandez’s injuries because she failed to keep a proper lookout, failed to maintain reasonable control over her vehicle, failed to stop at a red light, and failed to stop for a pedestrian and by “operating a motor vehicle when she was medically unfit to do so.”

Other claims to prove negligence, according to the lawsuit, include the fact that Lepoidevin failed to inform her employer at her hiring of her “long-standing” history of seizures, the seizures that occurred the day of the crash and the change in medication. The lawsuit also claims she should have told her employer that she was given a citation for careless driving in Nov. 2015. The citation was dismissed because Lepoidevin took an online road safety course.

The lawsuit claims that Nancy’s Floral Inc. and its parent company was negligent by “failing to inquire” about any medical condition that could have impacted Lepoidevin’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.

Yanique Woodall, Vice President, Enterprise Public Relations which represents 1-800-FLOWERS.COM said via e-mail, “It is our policy to not comment on legal matters.”

Attempts to reach Lepoidevin and Nancy’s Floral Inc. have been unsuccessful.

The Gresham Police Department told KOIN 6 News they referred the case to the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office for criminal prosecution consideration. The DA’s Office said the case was reviewed by a grand jury and decided not to file charges. Officials from both agencies continue to investigate the discrepancy.

KOIN 6 News has been unable to find any court record that shows Lepoidevin was ever cited by Gresham police for careless driving to a vulnerable road user stemming from the April 20 crash.

R. Brendan Dummigan, the attorney representing Orozco-Hernandez and her family, declined to comment.

The lawsuit also states that before being hired by Nancy’s Floral Inc., Lepoidevin “had applied for a job as a bus operator at TriMet, but was denied employment because she had admitted, in response to a specific question on her application, that she had a history of seizures.”