Fatal accident at dangerous intersection. $23.7 million. Los Angeles County.

Summary

Plaintiffs say parked cars blocked view of intersection and constituted a dangerous condition.  Death of scientist, age 59, while riding a motorcycle.

The Case

  • Case Name: Lani Guilmette; and Grayson Guilmette, by and through his guardian ad litem, Lani Guilmette v. City of Los Angeles; and Ramon Nevarez
  • Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court / BC523080
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Monday, May 02, 2016
  • Date Action was Filed: Monday, September 30, 2013
  • Type of Action: Dangerous Condition of Public Roads, Highways, Vehicles - Intersection, Vehicles - Motorcycle
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Roy Paul
  • Plaintiffs:
    Lani Guilmette, 53, wife of decedent
    Grayson Guilmette, 7, son of decedent
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $23,665,931
  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: 95% City of Los Angeles, 5% decedent.
  • Economic Damages:

    $3,665,931

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    $20,000,000

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 11 days.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 1 1/2 days.
  • Jury Polls: 12-0

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Liddy Law Firm by Donald G. Liddy and Paula Jovell, Pasadena.

    Johnston & Hutchinson, LLP  by Thomas Johnston, Los Angeles.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Office of the  Los Angeles City Attorney by Dikran Sassounian, Los Angeles. (For City.)

    Veatch Carlson by James Siepler, Los Angeles. (For Ramon Nevarez.)

     

The Experts

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Jon Landerville, accident reconstruction, Torrance.

    Wes Pringle, traffic and transportation engineering, Laguna Niguel.

    Peter Wrobel, economics, Los Angeles.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    David Royer, P.E., traffic and highway engineering.

    Wesly Nutten, economics, Los Angeles.

    Daniel Voss, accident reconstruction, Long Beach.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On the morning of February 27, 2013, Thomas Guilmette, a 59-year-old  husband and father, was killed in a collision with a motorist, Ramon Nevarez. Decedent was riding his motorcycle when he was struck by the defendant driver. Decedent was a rocket scientist working on the Webb telescope at the time of his death.

    Defendant driver, Mr. Nevarez, was attempting to turn left from Cabrillo Avenue onto Summerland in San Pedro, California. Mr. Nevarez’ view to his left was obstructed by parked cars. There were no signs or other markings prohibiting parking. Defendant driver was found not liable by the jury.

    The City admitted it does not determine whether intersections or roadways are dangerous unless someone complains about them. When the City’s expert was questioned about existing plans showing 35-31 feet of red curb, he testified he had never seen the plans. (After Mr. Guilmette's death, the city added a stop sign and restricted parking on the curb that had blocked drivers' views at the intersection.)

     

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That the City knew of the dangerous condition before Mr. Guilmette was killed.

    That the dangerous intersection claimed the life of Mr. Guilmette, a scientist at Northrop Grumman working on satellites and the Webb telescope at the time of his death. The lawsuit was filed by Mr. Guilmette’s survivors – his widow, Lani Guilmette and their young son, Grayson.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defense contended that all liability belonged to the motorists involved in the accident and denied that a plan to make the intersection safer existed before the accident.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Wrongful death – loss of love, companionship, guidance, support, training, comfort, financial support, assistance, protection, and care.

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff Final Demand before Trial: $15,000,000
  • Defendant Final Offer before Trial: $0

Disclaimer

This is not an official court document. While the publisher believes the information to be accurate, the publisher does not guarantee it and the reader is advised not to rely upon it without consulting the official court documents or the attorneys of record in this matter who are listed above.

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