State Settles 4 Year Battle for Deadly Wrong-Way Drunk Driving Crash – Talent, Oregon
August 12, 2019

The State of Oregon settled a 4-year battle a few days before the trial was set to start. The state of Oregon agreed to pay $500,000 to a local man (Bill Greenstein) whose wife was killed in a head0on collision with a wrong-way drunk driver on Interstate 5 near Phoenix Oregon.

In the lawsuit, Bill Greenstein argued the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) should never have granted a driver’s license to the man who killed his wife in the head-on crash.

If the DMV worker had checked Scott’s record when issuing him a license, they would have seen he had 5 past driving under the influence of intoxicants convictions in California and a suspended and revoked license in California.

Oregon law does not allow the DMV to grant an Oregon license to someone who is seeking an Oregon driver’s license if the person’s license is still suspended or revoked in another state.

Commentary from Damian Idiart

I don’t know Mr. Greenstein, but I was happy to read that he was able to settle his wrongful death suit against the DMV, stemming from the horrific motor vehicle collision that left him a widower. I agree with Mr. Greenstein and his attorney when they both indicated that this tragedy could have easily been avoided had the DMV done what it should have done in denying a license to a driver with an excessive history of DUII convictions.

I believe it is a shame that Mr. Greenstein and his family had to fight so hard to force the DMV and its attorneys to pay out of this case. The DMV was in clear violation of its own internal rules as cited in the Plaintiff’s complaint: “Upon receipt of an application for a driver license or driver permit, DMV will make an inquiry to the National Driver Register/Problem Driver Pointer System (NDR/PDPS) or the Commercial Driver License Information System (CDLIS) or both to determine if the applicant’s driving privileges are suspended, revoked, canceled or otherwise not valid in any other jurisdiction …DMV will not issue driving privileges to a person until his or her driving privilege is reinstated in all jurisdictions.”

The news has not reported that this took over four years fighting in court to see justice. Shame on you DMV and your lawyers. This was a clear cut case of the violation of rules and of common sense decency that should have led to this kind of settlement early on. Instead, not only did the DMV and its lawyers deny any wrongdoing but they also said that they had immunity from the claim and that any potential amount that they may owe was limited by tort claim liability limits. I can only imagine that this posturing added to the injury and insult that Mr. Greenstein and his family must have felt during this tragedy.

I would be remiss if I did not comment on the injustice all citizens of the state of Oregon face in situations similar to this one when the amount of money for the wrongful death of a family member is limited to $500,000. This is a law that must be changed. The law is archaic. A life is priceless so leave it up a to a jury of our fellow citizens to decide what value to place on the claim after listening to all of the evidence. The DMV got away with delaying justice for several years and then they made out like bandits because of an outdated law that puts limits on common decency.

My hope is that Mr. Greenstein and his family can experience closure now this fight is over. I thank him and his personal injury lawyer for fighting the good fight.

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About Damian Idiart

Damian Idiart is a Personal Injury Lawyer who has been serving Oregon and California since 2001 at Idiart Law Group. With locations across Oregon and California Damian loves to help those who have been put in unfortunate situations due to the negligence of others. Damian is known for his compassion and understanding.

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