Case details

Estate: Roadway fatality due to lack of guardrail and warning





Result type

Not present

ankle, death, multiple trauma, shoulder
On Nov. 24, 2018, plaintiff’s decedent Alexsandr Kuzminskii, 36, an architect, was driving along Angeles Crest Highway, in Wrightwood, on his way to go hiking for the day in the Angeles National Forest. His wife, plaintiff Mariia Kuzminskaia, 35, an architect, was a passenger in the vehicle. As they traveled around a curve, their vehicle left the roadway. Their vehicle traveled over the edge of the roadway and went down an embankment several hundred feet in the San Gabriel Mountains. During the incident, Kuzminskii was ejected from the vehicle and died at the scene. His wife, Kuzminskaia, survived with only mild to a shoulder and an ankle. Kuzminskaia, acting individually and on behalf of Kuzminskii’s estate, sued the believed maintainers of the roadway, the state of California and the county of Los Angeles. Kuzminskaia alleged that the defendants failed to properly repair and/or maintain the roadway, creating a dangerous condition of public property. She also alleged that the defendants failed to adequately warn of the roadway’s potentially dangerous conditions. The county was dismissed from the case, and the matter continued against the state only. Plaintiffs’ counsel noted that an investigating highway patrolman found that, although it was a clear and sunny day on the date of the accident, there was invisible or black ice on the highway and that an "ICY" warning road sign, located a few hundred feet before the accident location, had been rotated away from the view of Kuzminskii and Kuzminskaia. Counsel asserted that the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) failed to adequately prevent and/or warn of potential icy roadway conditions, and failed to adequately inspect the roadway for dangerous conditions. Plaintiffs’ counsel further asserted that there was no guardrail at the subject location and that the state failed to adequately maintain a sufficient recovery area between the edge of the roadway and the embankment, which made the roadway dangerous. Defense counsel noted that the California Highway Patrol determined that the driver, Kuzminskii, violated Vehicle Code § 22350 for driving at a speed greater than was reasonable for the highway’s conditions and that Kuzminskii was the sole cause of the accident. Thus, counsel asserted that Kuzminskii was the sole cause of the accident by traveling at an unsafe speed for the roadway’s conditions. Defense counsel contended that the state was immune from claims regarding decisions relating to the design of the roadway, including the decision to not have a guardrail at the subject location. Counsel also contended that there had been no other accidents at the subject location that could have alerted Caltrans to any dangerous conditions and that Caltrans had previously inspected the site and applied anti-icing agent two days before the accident. Defense counsel further contended that, in any event, Caltrans was immune under the Government Code for conditions caused by the weather., Kuzminskii sustained multiple traumatic . Paramedics ultimately pronounced him dead. Kuzminskaia was airlifted to a hospital, where she was treated for minor to an ankle and a shoulder. She then underwent a month or two of physical therapy. Kuzminskaia claimed she and her husband were both Russian nationals who had moved to the United States and that Kuzminskii was the love of her life. She also claimed that Kuzminskii was her husband of many years and the future father of her children. However, Kuzminskaia claimed that she suffers from emotional distress as a result of losing her husband in a tragic manner and that she continues to deal with the trauma on a daily basis. Kuzminskaia sought recovery of damages related to her own and on-going emotional distress. She also sought recovery of wrongful death damages for the loss of her husband’s love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, society and moral support. In addition, she sought recovery of damages for the loss of a lifetime of financial support.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Pomona, CA

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