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Man’s Death in Venice Intersection Results in $12.25M Settlement Against Los Angeles

As far back as 2012, the City of Los Angeles was aware of the dangerous conditions a deadly and uncontrolled Venice Beach crosswalk presented. For years, residents pleaded with the city, submitting formal requests to amend the intersection of Pacific and Sunset Avenues. A clutter of confusing signage and poorly visible markings failed to alert drivers from speeding down the street in both directions, causing dozens of accidents. In 2016, the city finally acknowledged the neighborhood’s concerns, granting funds to place LED beacons within the crosswalk. Despite this, the intersection remained untouched until the foreseeable death of a vacation-goer forced Los Angeles to act. However, with expressed and implied immunities over the design of the roadway and a multitude of legal defenses, the fight to attain justice against the city was fraught with challenges.

It was a sunny and clear morning on October 25, 2017. 40-year-old Damon Shear was vacationing in Venice Beach. As he lawfully crossed the intersection, a driver fatally struck him. Damon’s three children were devastated over the irreplaceable loss of their father. Initially, they retained an attorney who focused on holding the driver responsible, having no interest in litigating against the city.

Two months later, they contacted Court Purdy and Bill Paoli of Paoli & Purdy, PC after hearing of their consecutive victories holding governmental entities accountable for dangerous public roadways. Court and Bill sought to compel the city to recognize its failure to reform the intersection and compensate Damon’s children for their father being so violently taken from them.

Through discovery, Court and Bill revealed the city had long-term notice of the dangerous street plaguing the Venice Beach community. They found traffic investigations conducted by engineers who concluded the crosswalk was so unsafe, they did not feel comfortable crossing the street.

After deposing dozens of people, Court and Bill unearthed a mountain of evidence to validate their case. The challenge, however, was building a strategy to communicate that evidence clearly, concisely, and persuasively. Court and Bill worked with DK Global to create a presentation that outlined their case and the crosswalk’s infamous history.

Building on Court and Bill’s evidence, DK Global produced a video presentation to enhance their clients’ case. The video began with a satellite view of Venice Beach, California. Footage of makeshift stop signs using red film and hazard warnings alerting approaching drivers was shown while the community and local reporters voiced their frustration with the intersection. Documents including petitions from the community, reports from city engineers, and the request for LED beacons in the crosswalk were displayed and highlighted. While the city neglected the intersection, it unnecessarily implemented the same requested safety measures to another crosswalk a mile away, located in front of a Snapchat office. The video connected how, due to yearlong inaction by the city, yet another motorist failed to notice the crosswalk and struck Damon, killing him. Finally, the presentation concluded with a memorial dedicated to Damon.

With a presentation showing how Los Angeles could have amended the crosswalk at Pacific and Sunset Avenue but neglected to do so, Bill and Court secured a $12.25 million settlement for Damon’s children and prompted changes that would prevent another senseless death.

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.

"We use DK Global a lot and they've been essential in our success, in getting these wrongful death, dangerous condition cases either ready for trial or ready for settlement."
Court Purdy - Paoli & Purdy, PC
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