Lawsuit over I-5 death settles for $1.75 million

Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz settled her lawsuit against the last defendant accused of contributing to the death of her husband in a rainy head-on collision on Interstate 5, court records show.

Amanda Fritz agreed to a total of $1.75 million for the Sept. 24, 2014, crash that killed Steve Fritz in his 1993 zebra-striped Nissan Sentra.

The suit came to a close earlier this month when a Multnomah County Circuit judge signed off on a $200,000 settlement between Steve Fritz’s estate and Carson Oil Co. The driver of a Carson Oil tanker truck had been accused in Fritz’s suit of contributing to the crash by speeding and splashing water onto other cars, including the pickup truck that veered from I-5 north, across the un-barricaded median and into Fritz’s car.

The driver of that pickup, Michael Lippmann agreed to pay a $100,000 settlement.

As reported last year, the state of Oregon agreed to pay Fritz’s estate $1.45 million to settle a claim that the Department of Transportation was at fault for failing to build a possibly life-saving median barrier on that stretch of I-5 — despite knowing that “numerous vehicles had crossed over between the northbound and southbound lanes due to the lack of proper safety barriers.”

Also this month, the husband of Cary Fairchild agreed to settle a wrongful death lawsuit for a total of $950,000. Fairchild was in the passenger seat of Steve Fritz’s car.

Steve Fritz and Cary Fairchild were southbound on I-5 and carpooling to their jobs at the Oregon State Hospital when Lippmann’s 2005 Ford Ranger pickup struck them. Fritz, 54, died on impact. Fairchild, 64, died 10 days later at Salem Hospital.

After Fritz’s and Fairchild’s deaths, the state fast-tracked the project and installed a cable barrier along that stretch. Under a law passed in June 2015, the Department of Transportation has until 2022 to build median barriers along 100 miles of Oregon highway that have been deemed susceptible to fatal crossover crashes.

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