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Saturday, January 22, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Injured bicyclist settles lawsuit for $710,000

Seattle Times staff reporter

A Bellevue pastor has reached a $710,000 civil-lawsuit settlement with the families of two teenagers who pushed him off a moving bicycle almost three years ago.

The settlement, signed Jan. 4 in King County Superior Court, stems from a case that highlights the blurry lines between forgiveness, justice, hard consequences and the need to pay medical bills.

On March 25, 2002, the Rev. David Tinney was riding his bicycle along Newport Way in Bellevue, training for the Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic, when a car pulled up beside him.

A 17-year-old boy leaned out of the passenger-side window and shoved Tinney to the ground. The fall broke five of Tinney's ribs, punctured a lung, shattered most of his right arm and bruised his brain. The car sped off without stopping.

Tinney and the lawyers involved in the settlement declined to comment yesterday. Attempts to reach the teenagers and their families were unsuccessful. The Seattle Times is not naming the teenagers because they were tried and convicted as juveniles.

On several occasions afterward, Tinney publicly said he forgave the teenagers: the boy who pushed him and the 17-year-old girl who drove the car.

He used the subject of forgiveness as the basis for sermons and a study series at his church. And he asked the courts to try the teenagers as juveniles instead of adults so they wouldn't face time in adult prison if convicted.

But he expressed dismay because he felt the teenagers — who each served about four months in juvenile detention — neither appreciated his gestures nor accepted responsibility for what they did. He also was disappointed they never took him up on his long-standing offer to meet and talk. "In the end, there was more denial than accountability," Tinney said in 2003. "Any possibility of coming together seems to have passed."

He sued in March 2003, citing mounting medical bills, lingering pain and immobility, continuing bouts of depression, and suffering endured by his family.

Court documents accompanying the settlement judgment describe Tinney's current physical state.

A sermon that used to take him an hour and a half to memorize now requires three, according court documents. He "hits a wall" after four or five hours of any kind of intensive work. Even raking dry leaves for more than 15 minutes is "impossible without disabling deep bone pain."

However, the documents also say Tinney found a recumbent three-wheel bicycle that does not stress his arms like an upright bicycle, allowing him to make the Seattle-to-Portland ride with his daughter last summer.

The settlement amount will be paid partly through insurance. But the parents of the teenage boy, who were accused by Tinney of negligence in raising their son, agreed to pay $60,000, according to the judgment.

Christine Clarridge, Times staff reporter, contributed to this report. Michael Ko: 206-515-5653 or mko@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

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