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Motorcyclist wins $2.65M in suit against N.J. county claiming large potholes caused bad crash


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A six-member jury has awarded a New Jersey motorcyclist $2.65 million (US) due to the injuries incurred from a 2016 crash. Large potholes in the road caused the rider to lose control and veer into oncoming traffic, colliding with a minivan. The lawyer for the rider presented evidence that the county knew of the pothole problems in the area for at least two years before the crash, but failed to adequately fix them. The lawyer for the county claimed the rider was speeding before the crash.

In April of 2016, Roger Gates was riding along Oak Ridge Road in Passaic County when he encountered rough road near the shoulder, which forced him to ride closer to the middle of the lane. As the road curved to the right, he struck two large potholes, which caused him to lose control and ride into the oncoming lane and collide with a minivan. Gates was airlifted to Hackensack University Medical Center, where he underwent numerous surgeries, as well as 10 weeks of inpatient rehabilitation. On top of the award, Gates will be reimbursed $756,000 for medical expenses.

Jeffrey Patti, Gates’ lawyer, contended that the county did not adequately fix the potholes, and knew that they were a recurring problem. The area was repaved in 2018 and the potholes eliminated.

Ronald Hunt, the lawyer for Passaic County, was unsuccessful in his bid to submit evidence regarding the county’s road paving program, and his contention that Gates was speeding before the accident was not accepted by the jury, according to Patti.

Gates suffered multiple fractures of his pelvis, breaks to his right shoulder and left wrist, and permanently damaged nerves in his lower body. Formerly physically fit, Gates now walks with a cane, and according to, can no longer work.



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