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City of Los Angeles Found Liable in Fatal Motorcycle Collision

When the city of Los Angeles received complaints about excessive speed near an intersection, it decided to erect a fence, intended to slow down drivers. However, this fence created dangerous line-of-sight issues that led to a gruesome accident in which a motorcyclist was tragically killed.

The motorcyclist had been traveling down the roadway and proceeded straight through the intersection. As he passed, through, he smashed into the side of a Mercedes making a left-hand turn and was decapitated from the impact. The driver of the Mercedes, who had not seen him coming due to the visual obstacles near the intersection, was also killed in the crash.

Gene Sullivan, co-founder of Sullivan & Sullivan was brought onto to the case to represent the motorcyclist’s young son. Gene brought on Court Purdy, a founding partner at Paoli and Purdy, PC, to help him investigate whether the city was liable for the fatal crash.

Court and Gene hired an accident reconstructionist and a traffic engineer for the case. They personally consulted with the city’s own traffic engineers about the road’s history. Their investigation revealed that years prior to the fatal crash, a nearly identical accident had taken place in the same spot. The city had not conducted speed analyses or researched potential visibility issues caused by the fence, which was in violation of state highway standards. Additionally, Court and Gene’s team also found that a local resident had contacted a city council member after the fence’s erection to ask for a full traffic signal and was ignored. Despite this evidence, the Defense argued the city was not liable for the motorcyclist’s death.

The duo knew they would need a visual to show a potential jury how the city’s negligence contributed to the fatality. They needed a timeline and visuals depicting the dangerous scene the city had set up for the accident. They contacted DK Global to help visualize what happened that day.

DK Global worked alongside Gene, Court, and their experts to create an animation that opened with a bird’s eye view of the intersection. The motorcyclist was shown driving down the road when he approached the intersection and crashed into the side of the Mercedes. The animation then panned to the fence, signage, utility pole, and retaining wall at the intersection, showing how they created a blind spot for drivers turning left. Then, the visual presented a timeline with several events, including the construction of the fence and request from a local resident for a traffic signal. The animation also noted that the fence, pole, and signage actually violated California’s highway design standards, and provided information from a deposition with the city’s own traffic engineer in which he agreed there were line of sight issues. The video emphasized the city’s failure to post a speed feedback sign on the road, violating Los Angeles Department of Transportation’s compliance standards. The video then included statements from the city’s traffic engineer in which he agreed that a “T intersection” sign should have been placed at the intersection, along with a final reenactment of the car accident, where the city’s negligence, was evident.  

The city of Los Angeles vehemently denied any responsibility for the crash. But by weaving the facts throughout their presentation along with multiple reenactments of the accident, Court and Gene skillfully leveraged the DK Global visualizations to illustrate the city's negligence. Their adept use of these powerful animations helped them to secure a nearly $4,000,000 settlement for their client.

Court Purdy, founding partner of Paoli and Purdy PC, specializes in cases involving personal injury, wrongful death, environmental issues, accidents, product liability, premises liability, and toxic exposures. He has published articles on environmental law and has presented at the American College of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, Mealey’s, Lexis/Nexis, and many other legal organizations on personal injury, trial, and mold litigation. He is a member of the Orange County and American Bar Associations, Consumer Attorneys of California, and is a former board member of the California Trial Lawyers Association.

Gene Sullivan, co-founder of Sullivan & Sullivan, has over twenty years of experience in personal injury litigation. His firm is recognized for securing multi-million-dollar verdicts and settlements in serious injury cases. Gene's practice areas include catastrophic injury and wrongful death. His firm includes members of various respected trial associations and organizations, including ABOTA, CAALA, Orange County Trial Lawyers Association, LA Bar Association, and the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

"The visual imagery was just phenomenal. That's what helps get the case understood for the jury and the adjusters."
Gene Sullivan — Sullivan & Sullivan
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