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$60 Million Obtained for Town's Deadly School Intersection

For nearly 15 years, the intersection of Bear Valley Road and Navajo Road in the Town of Apple Valley, California, was known as an unsafe crossing for pedestrians. However, the intersection was a thoroughfare for children walking to and from Apple Valley High School. Worse, as far back as 2003, school administrators pled with the school district and Town Council to reduce the speed limit to 25 MPH when children were present. Not only did the Town Council reject the appeals to make the intersection safer, it increased the speed limit.

Ironically, in 2017 the Town of Apple Valley adopted a “Safe Routes to School” master plan, part of a national initiative for students to have safe spaces to walk and bike to class. Hollow words and inaction had consequences, though, and the Town’s apathy and neglect created a deadly school intersection that claimed a young student's life.

In March 2016, 14-year-old freshman, Alex De La Cruz, began his pre-dawn walk to school. Reaching the Bear Valley Road intersection, he received the signal to cross the street. The sun hadn’t risen yet, and inadequate street lighting made visibility challenging. As he passed, a Ford Explorer traveling around 50 MPH struck Alex. Sadly, he succumbed to his injuries shortly after.

Alex’s family was devastated. Two months later, Alex’s family filed two claims against Apple Valley, asserting their son was killed by the town’s irresponsible roadway construction and school zoning. The Town rejected both claims outright. After they were rejected, they sought representation that would relentlessly fight on their behalf to obtain an appropriate response and answers. They found attorneys William Paoli and Court Purdy of Paoli & Purdy, PC, a firm with decades of experience tackling cases against governmental entities.

Paoli and Purdy conducted hours of research and depositions and uncovered a long and infamous history of the intersection. They found Apple Valley had long-term notice of the dangers presented on Bear Valley Road but continued to turn a blind eye, despite implementing speed regulations in other parts of the Town. In fact, shortly before Alex’s passing, Apple Valley High School staff had even requested the California Department of Transportation grant funds to improve the surrounding sidewalks and roadways, but this was also denied.

With mountains of evidence unearthed, Paoli & Purdy needed to present their case in a clear and coordinated manner that captured the town’s wanton indifference to correct the dangerous roadways. Moreover, they needed to convey the cost of the De La Cruz family’s irreplaceable loss and how Alex's death could have been – and should have been – avoided. Court and Bill contacted DK Global to create a compelling presentation that compiled their documents, witness testimonies, and deposition transcripts that demonstrated the ramifications of Apple Valley’s idleness.

The presentation began with an overview of the area where the accident occurred. Documents showed the town was well-aware of the unsafe intersection but repeatedly sidestepped responsibility.

A witness’s deposition transcript then described the lighting at the intersection as “pitch black” when she saw Alex lawfully traverse the crosswalk before he was killed. The presentation revealed that the town had no engineering or traffic studies to explain why they ignored basic safety mandates. Then, day-in-the-life interviews of Alex’s dad, stepmom, and mom explain the agonizing pain the death of their son caused. The presentation reinforced the overall theme: Alex’s death would have been prevented had Apple Valley acted sooner.

By demonstrating the Town’s negligence and utilizing heart-wrenching testimonies from Alex’s family, Paoli and Purdy were able to hold the city accountable and secure a $60 million judgment for the De La Cruz family.

Court Purdy of Paoli & Purdy, PC, specializes in environmental law cases involving mold exposure, lead, asbestos, chemicals, or other toxins. He also practices in civil litigation, personal injury, wrongful death, vehicle accidents, products’ liability, and more. He has presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, Mealey’s, Lexis/Nexis, and other legal organizations on the topic of personal injury, trial, and mold litigation.

William Paoli of Paoli & Purdy, PC, has nearly three decades of experience handling personal injury matters and cases involving toxic exposure, environmental hazards, legal malpractice, or other civil rights violations. He is currently a member of several organizations and associations including the State Bar of California, the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, and the California Employment and Lawyers Association. He holds certification as a “Civil Trial Advocacy Specialist” by the National Board of Trial Advocacy.

"The way that DK Global is able to put those videos together, the way they are able to use their photography, and the audio-visual techniques that they use are incredibly helpful with presenting the case."
Court Purdy - Paoli & Purdy, PC
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