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$9.5M Settlement Against City of Los Angeles for Dangerous Conditions on Beachfront Road

In Los Angeles, a road called Vista Del Mar runs north to south between where the Los Angeles International Airport ends and the Pacific Ocean begins. For years, it was known by city traffic engineers as one of the most dangerous streets in Los Angeles. With miles-long stretches between crosswalks, the street offered no safe options for pedestrians to cross from the east side to the beach. Consequently, most beachgoers resorted to sprinting across the busy thoroughfare. Worse yet, the street’s lights remained in a state of disrepair for decades, making it nearly impossible for drivers to see people crossing at night. Despite its danger, Vista Del Mar was traversed daily by pedestrians as the sole entry point to the incredibly popular Dockweiler Beach.

Around midnight, after spending an evening enjoying a bonfire at Dockweiler Beach, 16-year-old Naomi and her friends headed back to their car, parked on the east side of the roadway. With the nearest marked crosswalk over a mile away, Naomi and her friends carefully traversed the unlit street. However, as they reached the far-right lane, a taxi driver speeding at approximately 60 miles per hour struck Naomi and her friend. Tragically, Naomi succumbed to her injuries in the hospital weeks later.

Court Purdy and Bill Paoli of Paoli & Purdy represented Naomi’s parents. After securing a confidential settlement against the taxi driver and his employer, Bill and Court focused their attention on the City of Los Angeles, attaining an additional $9.5 million settlement. The two collaborated with DK Global to create a presentation that outlined the city’s failure to amend the roadway despite pleas and complaints from its employees and community.

The two began their litigation by investigating the street’s long history of pedestrian accidents and fatalities. They discovered that Los Angeles’ senior traffic engineers recommended several safety measures to protect pedestrians three years before Naomi’s death. Unfortunately, the city neglected to do anything with those recommendations. When Bill and Court inspected the road’s lighting conditions, they found the streetlights were installed around the 1920s and desperately needed repairs. City employees they deposed could not indicate how long the lights were dysfunctional. Finally, the two uncovered that the city failed to maintain additional crosswalks along the road until they faded from view, and ultimately, were phased out.

To reinforce their case further, Bill and Court retained several experts, including a traffic engineer and an accident reconstructionist, to assess the roadway and environment. Then, the two brought on DK Global to incorporate their evidence into a comprehensive documentary presentation, summarizing the city’s decade-long notice of the dangerous conditions plaguing the community. Their goal was to show the Los Angeles City Council the repercussions of their inaction and how it led to the foreseeable death of Naomi.

The video began with an overview of Vista Del Mar and Dockweiler beach. Then, videos of pedestrians struggling to traverse the road during the day demonstrated a lack of safe paths to get across. Court documents revealed that city officials knew for years how the area where the taxi struck Naomi remained dangerous and responsible for multiple pedestrian accidents. Correspondences between the city’s traffic engineers were shown, determining it was a high-priority issue to install a traffic signal and a mid-block crosswalk. Local news footage covering the incident played as the moments leading up to Naomi’s death were described. Finally, a slideshow of Naomi’s life presented the preventable and tragic loss of an outstanding young woman due to the city’s failure to act.

Just before trial, Bill and Court shared the incriminating presentation with Los Angeles City Councilmembers during a mediation, indicating Naomi’s death resulted from Los Angeles’ idleness. Although no amount could adequately compensate Naomi’s parents over the loss of their beloved daughter, the board unanimously approved a settlement of $9.5M be awarded to them. Additionally, the city amended the roadway to help prevent future accidents from occurring.

For over 20 years, Court Purdy and Bill Paoli of Paoli & Purdy, PC have specialized in representing their clients in civil litigation, personal injury, product liability, and environmental law. As members of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, Bill and Court have attained millions of dollars in compensation against large governmental entities throughout California. Recently, Bill and Court were awarded the 2020 Orange County Trial Lawyer Association’s “Top Gun Trial Lawyers of the Year.”

Court Purdy has earned a Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review “Distinguished” award for his legal expertise.

Bill Paoli has been recognized as a “Super Lawyer” for 16 years. His successful track record in all his professional endeavors has earned him a 10.0 "Superb" peer review rating through Avvo, among other honors.

 

For over 20 years, Court Purdy and Bill Paoli of Paoli & Purdy, PC have specialized in representing their clients in civil litigation, personal injury, product liability, and environmental law. As members of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, Bill and Court have attained millions of dollars in compensation against large governmental entities throughout California. Recently, Bill and Court were awarded the 2020 Orange County Trial Lawyer Association’s “Top Gun Trial Lawyers of the Year.”

Court Purdy has earned a Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review “Distinguished” award for his legal expertise.

Bill Paoli has been recognized as a “Super Lawyer” for 16 years. His successful track record in all his professional endeavors has earned him a 10.0 "Superb" peer review rating through Avvo, among other honors.


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"With our experts and DK Global, we created a presentation that would have been incredibly damaging if the case had gone to trial."
Court Purdy – Paoli & Purdy, PC




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Although the facts and outcomes presented in this email are intended to be true and accurate, they represent the reporting of a unique matter and do not imply or guarantee any type of result or outcome for matters in which DK Global is involved.
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