JURY VERDICT: Poor street maintenance lead to crossover accident
Can a city be held liable for an accident caused by a drunk driver? Was the auto accident caused by poor street maintenance or drunk driving?
On January 21, 1991, a group of friends were driving along Alameda Street near Pacific Coast Highway when they were struck by an uninsured and inebriated driver who crossed the center line. Christina Mota, Elsa Mota, and Salvador Elizarraz had no major injuries. But their companions, Isabel Alvarez and Ivy Michelle Birbragher, sustained serious and life-threatening injuries. Isabel was rendered a partial paraplegic, and Ivy a full paraplegic. Both ladies were 24-year-old. Their injuries changed their lives forever and would require lifetime care.
Richard Koskoff’s job during this trial was to convince the jury that this was no simple drunk driving accident, but also a result of negligence and poor street maintenance by the City of Los Angeles. Through patience and expert testimony, he successfully argued the City of Los Angeles shared liability with the drunk driver.
“The facts Koskoff produced at trial showed that the city’s negligence in maintaining the road led to the accident. The center line was obscured by gravel and dirt and was no longer reflective at night. There were no pavement markers or highway dots (the raised domes that serve as lane dividers) that could have alerted [the driver] that he was driving into the other lane of traffic and thus prevented the accident.”
The defense argued that the driver was solely to blame, and during trial, never successfully answered why the street wasn’t properly maintained.
The jury returned a $28.9 million verdict in favor of our plaintiffs. The city was found responsible for 65% of the liability and the drunk driver for 35% of the liability. The city protested the verdict, but eventually settled the case for $9 million.
“We felt lucky like we were referred to Booth & Koskoff by someone we trusted. Richard’s professionalism and tenacity showed that he definitely was in our court.”
– John Mahoney
When I met with Roger, he was honest, genuine, and straight-forward on how we would proceed. Roger took a leap of faith when taking this case. He trusted what I said to be true, and wasn’t afraid to proceed.
– Cynthia Mitchell
“Because of Roger’s experience and professionalism, I was able to focus on the others things I needed to do for my brother to care for him during this time. He was a godsend, and I would highly recommend Roger and his staff.”
– Penny Vincelli
“From the moment I contacted Booth & Koskoff from my hospital bed to the eventual settlement of my case, I experienced nothing but outstanding assistance and representation.”
– Claire Rexon
“Mr. Booth did an incredible job resolving the case for us, and we are very thankful for the successful ending to our lawsuit. Thank you for your hard work Mr. Booth. You will always be our family lawyer and friend.”
– Sam Kirakosyan
The lawyers and staff at Booth & Koskoff were efficient, thorough, helpful and always available, even on weekends. I am very pleased with my overall experience, and I would recommend Booth & Koskoff to anyone who needs an excellent attorney.
– Keith Schultz
My family experienced a tremendous loss as a result of my father’s death. During the entire process of investigation and settlement of our case, we were treated with the utmost professionalism by the Booth & Koskoff attorneys and staff.
– Dale Magner