Smudged Crosswalk Costs Long Beach $2 Million

The City and a local driver settle claims for a child in a stroller severely injured when he was run over by a car in an uncontrolled intersection.

Barry Goldman and Steve Robinson of the Los Angeles law firm Rose, Klein & Marias today settled the case of Confidential Minor Plaintiff v. the City of Long Beach, et al, for a total of $2.1 million on behalf of a toddler with life-long effects from the injuries he sustained while within a poorly maintained crosswalk.

The accident occurred when the child's mother and aunt wheeled his stroller across an intersection, well within what they perceived to be a crosswalk, when a motorist hit the stroller. The adults sustained minor injuries, but the child received severe head trauma, resulting in seizures, mental retardation, blindness and almost complete inability to walk.

Goldman and Robinson secured almost immediate payment of $100,000 from the driver's insurance company. They also later secured a $2 Million settlement from the city of Long Beach, but the payments to the minor will total over $10,000,000.

The City's liability stems from its negligence in maintaining the uncontrolled intersection, which had in the past been the site of a city-painted crosswalk. However, safety studies known to the City demonstrated that a crosswalk at an uncontrolled intersection creates a trap for pedestrians, because they enter the area based on an illusion of safety.

In response to these studies, the City "blacktopped" with slurry over the crosswalk lines several years before the accident in an attempt to halt pedestrians entering the intersection. Some time after the blacktop action and before the accident, the crosswalk lines reappeared. However, the City of Long Beach did not act to black out the painted crosswalk lines, nor did it install lights or signs to control the intersection. In fact, while the painted crosswalk markings were clearly visible, but about a year before the accident, the city received a written complaint from an office worker with a view of the intersection, warning the City of numerous pedestrian-motorist "near-misses" in the area.

The trial court initially found no unsafe condition of public premises and no negligence by the city, and granted summary judgment. On appeal, Goldman and Robinson, both veteran trial lawyers, successfully argued the City's negligence was a cause of the accident, and the court held that a jury must determine the City's negligence and the cause of the accident. The case was sent back to the trial court, at which time the City began settlement negotiations.

Rose, Klein & Marias specializes in workers' compensation and personal injury.

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