Professor’s estate gets $4m in settlement
Construction piece had killed bicyclist

By Jonathan Saltzman, Globe Staff | February 7, 2006

The estate of a mathematics professor who was struck and killed by a piece of construction equipment while riding her bicycle on Huntington Avenue in 2000 will receive more than $4 million as a result of a wrongful death lawsuit settled hours before a trial was to start, a lawyer for her estate said yesterday.

Breaking News Alerts The operator of the cherry-picker, his employer, the owner, and the manufacturer agreed to pay a total of $4.03 million to the estate of Ruth Ingrid Michler, an associate professor of mathematics at University of North Texas in Denton, who was hit from behind, near Northeastern University, said the lawyer.

Jason DeMoura was driving the equipment from one location near Northeastern to another when he hit Michler. The equipment should have been loaded onto a truck and moved instead of being driven to the second location, the lawyer said.

The operator was in a basket 36 feet behind the engine as he drove, making it virtually impossible to see directly in front of the equipment.

DeMoura and his employer, Schlager Co., agreed to pay an unspecified part of the settlement, which was completed before a trial was to start Friday in Suffolk Superior Court. The owner and manufacturer of the cherry-picker, who were not identified because of a confidentiality agreement, are to pay the rest. The lawyer for DeMoura and Schlager, Martin Cosgrove, could not be reached for comment.

Michler, a 33-year-old math scholar on a mid-career grant at Northeastern, was struck in November 2000 at the corner of Huntington Avenue and Forsyth Street, witnesses told police.

After her death, state Senator Jarrett T. Barrios, a Democrat from Cambridge, introduced legislation requiring that cherry-pickers be regulated by the state like other heavy equipment. The bill is pending.