Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Disaster
Supino, et al. vs. City of Santa Monica, et al.
The incident shocked America. The images were horrifying. In 2003, an 86-year-old man crashed his Buick LeSabre through a wooden-and-plastic barricade, running over more than 70 pedestrians at the popular Santa Monica Farmer’s Market. Among the 10 people killed were a 3-year-old, a married couple, a 78-year-old grandmother and her 7- month-old grandson.
The accident raised questions about Santa Monica’s traffic safety procedures for the Farmer’s Market. Three years before the tragedy, a law enforcement office had called the city’s plan “a potential disaster waiting to happen.” The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found the city failed to comply with safety standards.
Thanks to members of the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee, which included Barry I. Goldman, and after five years of litigation, the City of Santa Monica and other defendants eventually came to a significant settlement with the victims in these 42 consolidated wrongful death and personal injury actions.
Santa Monica has since changed the barricade and traffic procedures for its Farmer’s Market, and other cities were forced to examine their efforts to protect pedestrians in similar open-air markets. The incident also put scrutiny on licensing requirements for drivers and resulted in numerous efforts to improve senior citizen driving safety.