Council Settles Suit for $700,000
Los Angeles Daily Journal
The Los Angeles City Council approved a $700,000 settlement Wednesday for a pedestrian who was injured when he was struck by a car that hit a patch of water skidded across a curving roadway in the Hollywood Hills.
Attorney Mark Wenzel of Stone, Dolginer & Wenzel, who represents David Morse, said his client agreed to the $700,000 settlement for several reasons. Morse v. City of Los Angeles, BC 145767.
One issue his client weighed was the fact that Morse of his injuries were for pain and suffering because they weren't able to document a "significant loss of earnings" claim, Wenzel said. More also considered the fact that governmental agencies often appeal jury verdicts, resulting in cases continuing on for months or years.
"We thought it was a fair amount of money for a settlement of the case," Wenzel said.
According to a letter to the City Council from Deputy City Attorney Victor A. Schulte, Morse was struck April 30, 1995, by a car driven by John Diaz while Morse was standing next to his car on a Hollywood Hills street. As Diaz applied his brakes while driving on a curved roadway, his car skidded sideways into Morse, pinning him against his parked vehicle and severely injuring his neck, back and leg.
During the litigation, Diaz settled out of the case for his insurance policy limits of $100,000.
Schulte wrote that the investigating officer listed the water in the roadway as the primary factor for the collision and described the roadway as being slippery. A second accident occurred at the same spot while they were still there.
The City had been put on notice about moss and slippery conditions in the roadway as early as 1991, Schulte said, but the roadway wasn't cleaned until after additional complaints were made in March 1993.
Schulte said one employee stated during a deposition taken in March 1997 that the ground water was still in the roadway and the problem could be corrected by installing a perforated drainage pipe under the roadway. That hasn't yet been done.
As a result of injuries from the collision, Morse required several back and neck surgeries. He had prior back problems with a condition known as congenital spinal stenosis. It is believed that as a result of the collision, he will need two additional surgeries, estimated to cost about $150,000.
So far, Morse's medical bills have been about $195,000, Schulte said. Morse, who was self-employed in the business of financing and building mini-malls in various countries, estimated his loss of earnings at $150,000.