A woman who was permanently paralyzed after the horse she was riding was struck by a car in 2011 has filed a lawsuit against the teenage driver and Summit County.
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Summit County's 3rd District Court, does not specify an amount Lacey Picard is seeking, but asks for a monetary reward to pay for medical costs and full-time residential care, along with lost wages.
Picard, 39, suffered a traumatic brain injury after the horse she was riding near Park City was struck by a car on Sept. 5, 2011. She was life-flighted to Salt Lake City, where doctors worked to mitigate the massive swelling in her brain.
The lawsuit was filed by Picard's guardians: father, Hans Picard, and friend Rhonda Devereaux. Hans Picard said Tuesday that his daughter still resides full-time in Bountiful's South Davis Community Hospital's assisted living center. He said her progress has been "very, very slow," and she is still heavily medicated. She has mobility of her right arm, the father said, and is currently undergoing physical therapy on her legs.
Hans Picard, who lives in North Carolina, said he tries to talk on the phone frequently with his daughter, but even that is difficult.
"She lacks the adequate ability to speak," he said Wednesday.
Lacey Picard, a former Holladay chiropractic doctor, had no medical insurance at the time of the crash, so her vast medical expenses have been covered by the state-run Medicaid system, which only goes so far in providing for rehabilitative care such as physical and speech therapy. Her father said he hopes any money received from the lawsuit can be used to transfer her to a rehabilitation center closer to home in North Carolina, where she can receive better care than Medicaid funding can offer.
"We have tried to move her closer to home, but Medicaid programs have been curtailed here," he said.
The lawsuit argues that the 16-year-old girl who was driving the vehicle that hit Lacey Picard's horse was negligent, and that the driver was driving her SUV above the speed limit and was distracted by her radio or mobile media device just before the accident. The lawsuit also claims that the county was negligent for poor road design and construction, including that there was no shoulder on the road where the accident occurred and the road was not striped with center or edge lines.
The teen pleaded guilty in 3rd District Juvenile Court to misdemeanor reckless endangerment and aggravated cruelty to an animal. At a her December 2011 sentencing, the girl was ordered to complete probation, which included 175 hours of community service and counseling. The judge also revoked the girl's driver license until she is 21 and ordered her to visit Picard at the care center.
A trial date for the civil suit has not been set.