Wife and children of Lubbock man sue TxDOT for $1 million or more

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LUBBOCK, Texas — The wife and children of Jan Whitaker on Wednesday sued the Texas Department of Transportation, and several TxDOT contractors. The lawsuit seeks $1 million or more for the death of Whitaker.

The lawsuit said in September 2017 Whitaker was riding his motorcycle from home to work along North Loop 289 near University Avenue.

“The portion of North Loop 289 that is involved in this suit was under construction at the time and was reduced to a single westbound lane of travel,” the lawsuit said.

It also said, “The University Avenue Exit from North Loop 289 was open and available for public travel. There were no signs, barricades, cones, or barrels preventing Mr. Whitaker from taking the exit at this location.”

But there was a problem, according to the lawsuit. There was uneven pavement so much so that the lawsuit called it a “special defect” as defined by Texas law.

“His motorcycle struck the unmarked elevated edge of the exit ramp. He lost control of his motorcycle, was thrown to the ground, and sustained critical injuries,” the lawsuit said.

He later died, the lawsuit said.

TxDOT and contractors “created an unreasonably dangerous highway condition” and “failed to correct or properly warn the traveling public” said the lawsuit.

Video from a few hours after the crash showed a “ramp closed” sign at the westbound exit for University Avenue.

TxDOT and the various contractors have not yet filed their side of the story in court records. EverythingLubbock.com did leave a message for a local spokesperson with TxDOT. This story will be updated if TxDOT wishes to make a comment.

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