Case details

Paralysis caused by lighting and motorist’s inattention: bicyclist




Mediated Settlement

Result type

Not present

cervical, fracture, fusion, neck
On Sept. 13, 2011, at approximately 7:25 p.m., plaintiff Russell Moon, a dentist in his 50s, was riding his bicycle on eastbound Allenford Avenue in Los Angeles when he attempted to cross the T-intersection at Brinkley Avenue and was struck by a vehicle operated by Steven Kopald, who was making a left turn from westbound Allenford Avenue onto southbound Brinkley Avenue. Moon was rendered a quadriplegic as a result of the accident. Moon sued Kopald and the believed maintainers of the intersection, the city and county of Los Angeles and the state of California. Moon alleged Kopald was negligent in the operation of his vehicle. He also alleged the city, county and state failed to properly maintain the intersection, creating a dangerous condition of public property. The county and state were voluntarily dismissed by Moon, as it was determined that they had no ownership or control of the intersection. Thus, the matter continued against Kopald and the city only. Moon claimed that at the time of the accident, he was riding his bicycle with due caution in a reasonable and legal manner. He also claimed he was wearing bright orange bike-riding clothes and had a bright, flashing light fixed to the front handlebars of his bicycle because it was dark out. Moon claimed that as he entered the subject intersection, which was controlled by a 3-phase traffic signal, Kopald cut the corner while making his left turn in a negligent manner. Thus, Moon alleged that Kopald failed to pay attention and/or yield to a visible bicyclist with a flashing halogen light that was properly positioned in a manner that it was clearly visible to oncoming traffic. In addition, Moon alleged that the city of Los Angeles was liable for an overhead street light being out, which created potential visibility issues for Kopald. Kopald claimed that he made his left turn in a reasonable manner, but that he never saw Moon prior to the accident. He alleged that either Moon’s bicycle light was improperly pointed downward and/or the intersection was too dark to see a bicyclist since one of the two overhead street lights was out. Counsel for the city contended that the intersection was free from any defects, as there were two overhead street lights. Counsel argued that one street light being out had no causal connection to the intersection at the location of the accident being allegedly poorly illuminated. The city’s counsel further argued that the testimony of Kopald confirmed that he did not have any problems seeing objects as he approached and entered the intersection, and that Kopald did not feel that the city’s lighting in any way prevented him from driving in a reasonable manner or prevented him from seeing Moon. In addition, counsel argued that the city had immunity, as it does not have a duty to provide any lighting., Moon sustained serious neck trauma and was subsequently rushed to a hospital. He suffered severe cervical fractures from C2 to C6, requiring fusion at C2-3, C3-4, C4-5 and C5-6. Moon was ultimately rendered a complete quadriplegic. Moon claimed that he is fully disabled and bound to a wheelchair that he controls with his mouth. He also claimed that he now requires lifelong, 24-hour care. Thus, he sought recovery of damages for his substantial past and future medical costs, as well as for his past and future pain and suffering. Defense counsel did not dispute Moon’s damages.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Santa Monica, CA

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