$1,850,000: San Clemente Crosswalk Accident Affects The Lives Of 3 Children

CASE DESCRIPTION:  Three children were using a cross walk at 8:25 p.m. when they were struck by a pickup.  Plaintiff sued the city on the basis that the lighting of the crosswalk was substandard, making it impossible for a driver to see potential pedestrians.  The Defense suggests that the Plaintiffs were comparatively negligent.

RESULT:  $1,850,000.00 total settlement

This is a case for wrongful death and personal injuries which arose out of an accident which occurred on July 28, 1986 at approximately 8:25 p.m. wherein the Decedent, Miguel P., his sister, Sandra P., and cousin, Diana F. were crossing El Camino Real in a marked crosswalk at its intersection with Avenida San Luis Rey, in the City of San Clemente.  At that time, they were struck by a 1983 Toyota pickup, which resulted in the death of Miguel P. and severe personal injuries to Sandra P. and Diana F.  The driver indicted that he did not see the children prior to impact.

Plaintiffs brought this action against the City of San Clemente because the intersection where this accident occurred presented a dangerous condition of public property.  The illumination was considerably substandard for this type of crosswalk and it was extremely difficult for a driver to see pedestrians in the crosswalk, making it almost impossible for the driver traveling at the prevailing speeds of this roadway to perceive, react and brake in time to avoid striking plaintiffs.

There were three victims in the auto accident: Miguel P., Sandra P., and Diana F.  Miguel P. was six years old and attended the first grade.  He was transported from the scene of this accident by helicopter to Santa Ana Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.  Sandra P. was nine years old at the time of this accident and was transported by helicopter to Fountain Valley Hospital where she received treatment for multiple wounds leaving lasting injuries.  Diana F. was also transported to Fountain Valley in a comatose state where she was treated for severe injuries that will permanently plague her life.

The Plaintiffs contended that the accident was caused by the negligence of the driver of the Toyota pickup truck, who failed to observe the children in the crosswalk.   Particularly since they had already crossed the opposite side of the street prior to impact and the driver may not have had his headlights on at the time of the accident.

The Defendant premised their defense on two grounds.  First the Defense argued that the guardian of the children, Plaintiff Hilda P., negligently supervised the children, since the children were allowed to go to the area where the accident occurred, at night, without any adult supervision. Secondly that the Defense was entitled to the design immunity defense and that the minimal accident history for this crosswalk demonstrated that there was no dangerous condition.

TYPE OF CASE:  Personal Injury; Wrongful Death

INJURIES:  Miguel P. was killed as a result of the accident.

Sandra P. arrived at Fountain Valley Hospital unconscious.  She suffered fractures of the right tibia and fibula, which required surgery and a large stellate right temporal skull fracture with basilar skull fracture.  She was also diagnosed as having a cerebral concussion with traumatic encephalopathy, multiple abrasions and blunt abdominal trauma.  Permanent injuries include a permanent limp in her right leg and severe emotional distress.

Diana F. was transported to Fountain Valley in a comatose state.  On arrival it was noted that she had a large laceration on her forehead, her right pupil was dilated and fixed, she had abrasions over her right hip, right thigh and right knee, with closed fracture of the right tibia and fibula.  X-rays and a CT Scan of her head showed contusion of the left cerebral hemisphere with an epidural hemtoma on the right side.  In addition, she underwent several surgeries including a placement of a three-way stop clock in the right frontal sub-arachnoid space for monitoring cranial pressure, bronchoscopy and lavage of her right lung and a tracheostomy, endoscopic gastrostomy, and bilateral burr hole Placements with evacuation of high pressure hygromas in both frontal areas of the skull.  Permanent injuries include brain injury, CNS disease with bilateral cortecobulbar  and cortecospinal tract deficits, cerebral palsy, causing her to walk with a limp and to have right side weakness, and will require daily assistance throughout her lifetime.

DATE & LOCATION OF INCIDENT: On 7/28/86 at 8:25 p.m. in the City of San Clemente.

PLAINTIFF’S AGE:  Sandra P. – 9 at time of incident.
Diana F. – 8 at time of incident.

OCCUPATION:  Sandra P. – student
Diana F. – student

Wylie A. Aitken & David P. Crandall
For Plaintiffs – Thomas, Hilda, and Sandra P., a minor, & Diana F., a minor, by and through their Guardian ad Litem, Hilda P.

Clifford H. Pearson

For Defendant – City of San Clemente