Most ridiculous lawsuits: Motorcyclist who hit Florida panther sues state over warning system

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Trackers this fall captured and collared an endangered Florida Panther that may be responsible for attacks on livestock. The collar will allow biologists to track the cat’s movements.

On a sunny day in March, Kenneth Nolan was riding his Ducati motorcycle along a stretch of U.S. 41 East through the Big Cypress National Preserve when a Florida panther ran into the road in front of him.

What happened next is at the center of a negligence and product liability lawsuit filed in Broward Circuit Court last month by Nolan, 57, of Broward County, and his wife, Debra, against the Florida Department of Transportation and traffic systems company TransCore.

The DOT had hired TransCore months earlier to install a wildlife warning system along the stretch of eastern Collier County road, infamous for being deadly for the endangered wildcats, to test whether the system would reduce the number of collisions between panthers and vehicles. It didn’t help Nolan.

Nolan’s bike hit the panther, sending Nolan skidding down the road. He broke his clavicle, his shoulder and some ribs and sustained a brain bleed. The panther got up and disappeared into the woods, its fate unknown.

“The product is intended to protect not only humans but panthers,” said Lawrence Bohannon, Nolans’ attorney in Fort Lauderdale. “In this case it did neither.”

Representatives of the DOT and TransCore wouldn’t comment on the lawsuit.

The so-called Roadside Animal Detection System was a first for Florida when it was unveiled in January along a 1.3-mile stretch of U.S. 41 that crosses the Turner River ...

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