Case details

City claimed accident due to intoxicated driver, not roadway





Result type

Not present

brain, brain damage paralysis, brain injury, cognition, fracture, impairment, mental, neck, psychological, subdural hematoma, traumatic brain injury
On Aug. 20, 2012, plaintiff Fermin Villa, 25, a college student, was a passenger in a vehicle driven by Carlos Arrieta. While attempting to negotiate a loop ramp from southbound Appian Way to eastbound Second Street, in Long Beach, Arrieta lost control of his vehicle, left the roadway and struck a 300-pound boulder in the median of the on-ramp. The vehicle rolled over several times before landing upside down in the westbound lanes of Second Street. Villa sustained to her head and neck. Villa sued Arrieta and the maintainer of the loop ramp, the city of Long Beach. Villa alleged that Arrieta was negligent in the operation of his vehicle and that the city was negligent in the construction, repair and maintenance of the roadway, creating a dangerous condition. Arrieta never appeared, and a default judgment was entered against him. Plaintiff’s counsel argued that the loop ramp was improperly constructed, in that three boulders were left in the landscape of the raised gore point that were not for decoration and had no real use. Counsel further argued that the boulders created a dangerous condition and that the city knew of the safety hazards, but did nothing to fix the problem. Plaintiff’s counsel contended that as a result, the front, left part of Arrieta’s vehicle struck a boulder, causing the vehicle to roll over passenger side first, and that the vehicle would not have rolled over if the boulder had not been in the median. The city’s counsel contended that Arrieta’s vehicle was already traveling in the wrong direction on the on-ramp when it struck the boulder and that the boulder actually caused the vehicle to slow down before it rolled over and landed on its roof. Counsel also contended that Arrieta was driving at an excessive speed, was under the influence of alcohol and was not operating the vehicle in a safe manner when it went over the curb and struck the boulder. The city’s counsel argued that Arrieta’s negligent driving was the sole cause of the accident and that no dangerous condition of public property existed., Villa sustained cervical fractures at C4, C5, C6 and C7. He also suffered a subdural hematoma. Villa was immediately taken to a hospital, and he ultimately underwent surgery to treat his cervical fractures and subdural hematoma. Villa claimed that he also suffered a traumatic brain injury. He contended that he suffers residual cognitive deficits and incomplete quadriplegia (also known as incomplete tetraplegia), resulting in paralysis of his arms. Villa sought recovery of past and future economic damages, including loss of earning capacity, as well as recovery of noneconomic damages for his past and future pain and suffering.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Long Beach, CA

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