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Case Results: Government Tort Claim/Public Entities

The following are examples of Bradley & Gmelich’s case results in matters involving Government Tort/Public Entities.


Augustin v. City of Palmdale

FACTS: This was a trip and fall case. Minor plaintiff was walking along a grassy, park like area owned by the public entity. He claimed to have stepped into an uncovered irrigation drain, cutting his left leg on the exposed edge of the PVC pipe. Plaintiff sought general damages and medical bills in the amount of $3,724.18.

RESULT: Plaintiff’s case was dismissed after he refused to comply with discovery orders.


Liberty Mutual Insurance Company v. City of Palmdale, et. al.

FACTS: This was a property damage subrogation claim brought by Liberty Mutual Insurance Company. Their insured’s vehicle allegedly ran over an open ditch in the street, causing $4,595.13 in property damage. There were no injuries.

RESULT: The case was settled with Plaintiff for a nuisance settlement of $500. The other parties to the litigation included a construction company and contractor. The City and the other defendants filed mutual dismissals of the Cross-Complaints against each other for a waiver of costs.


Robert Schaefer v. City of Palmdale, et. al.

FACTS: While on his way to work, the Plaintiff was struck head-on by another vehicle – traveling in the opposite direction – which had spun out of control after driving over “black ice” on the roadway following heavy rains. Plaintiff sued the public entity, alleging a claim for negligence and a claim that the design of the subject roadway constituted a “dangerous condition” under Government Code §835. Plaintiff alleged $335,000 in medical damages, $19,720.00 in loss of earnings, and $3,200 for property damage to his vehicle. Plaintiff’s wife was claiming loss of consortium ($150,000), but did not receive any treatment for her claim for loss of consortium.

RESULT: Motion for Summary Judgment granted and plaintiff appealed. Following reversal, the case was settled by all parties.


Anthony Han v. City of Long Beach et. al.

FACTS: This was a vehicle versus vehicle rear-end collision that occurred on a freeway on-ramp in Long Beach. Plaintiff, acting in the course and scope of his employment as a traffic counter, was conducting a pedestrian traffic survey near the on-ramp when the rear of his vehicle was struck by another vehicle which was traveling up the on-ramp. Plaintiff suffered a severe brain injury and required 24 -hour care in a licensed care facility. The initial demand was $9.5 million.

RESULT: Following the filing a Motion for Summary Judgment, the case settled for $2,225,000.


Lili Turk, Israel Turk v. County of Los Angeles, et. al..

FACTS: This case involved an incident at the Los Angeles Superior Court in Van Nuys, California at the security checkpoint located at the entrance to the courthouse. Plaintiff, Lili Turk claimed that a security guard employed by a private security company hired by the public entity stepped into her, causing physical injuries and emotional distress. The plaintiff’s husband allegedly witnessed the incident and claimed damages based upon negligent infliction of emotional distress and loss of consortium.

RESULT: The County of Los Angeles’ Motion for Non-Suit was granted. Following appeal, the remaining defendant settled with plaintiffs.


Robert Duarte v. K. Hovnanian Forecast Homes, Inc.

FACTS: This was a wrongful death case in which Plaintiff’s decedent, April Duarte, ran a stop sign and was struck by a truck on the cross street and killed. One-quarter of the intersection was owned and maintained by the City of Palmdale. One-quarter of the intersection was owned by City of Lancaster, and one-half of the intersection was owned by the County of Los Angeles. Plaintiff alleged negligent road design and maintenance against the firm’s client, City of Palmdale.

RESULT: Despite plaintiff’s demand of $335,000 at mediation just against our firm’s client, plaintiff ultimately settled his case against the City of Palmdale for $47,500.00. Contribution by other defendants totaled over $300,000.


Jerry Newcomb v. City of Palmdale, et. al.

FACTS: This is a skateboard accident lawsuit in which Plaintiff, Jerry Newcomb alleged that he was injured when his skateboard rode over a vault in the sidewalk located in the City of Palmdale. The vault, which plaintiff alleges was partially open when he tripped, is owned and operated by Palmdale Water District. Plaintiff is claimed medical expenses in the amount of $3,610 and future medical expenses in the amount of $30,000. He also claimed a loss of earnings in the amount of $10,000 and general damages in the amount of $200,000.

RESULT: The City filed a Cross-Complaint for indemnity against Palmdale Water District. Plaintiff, under threat of summary judgment, voluntarily dismissed the City.


Dianamarie Prevatt v. City of Palmdale, et al.

FACTS: This is a trip and fall lawsuit in which Plaintiff alleged that she was injured when she tripped over a raised area in the sidewalk located in the City of Palmdale. The area in question was raised less than one inch. There is no evidence that the City had any notice of any problems with the sidewalk in the area in which Plaintiff fell. At the time of her fall, Plaintiff hit both of her front top teeth on the sidewalk and has required significant dental work to fix her teeth. Plaintiff claimed medical bills totaling $30,000.

RESULT: The City successfully settled for $2,500.


Michael Smith, et al. v. J.T. Engineering, et al

FACTS: An extremely complex litigation stemming from a motor vehicle accident which occurred within the client’s City boundaries on a major highway. There were four plaintiffs. The driver was the only plaintiff to receive serious injuries, including quadriplegia. The collision between plaintiffs, who were traveling on Pearblossom Highway, and a driver who entered the intersection from 47th Street East, occurred while the intersection was undergoing construction by the Palmdale Water District. Plaintiff alleged one cause of action for dangerous condition of public property against the City. The City had made a claim for defense and indemnification to the Palmdale Water District based on an Encroachment Permit awarded to the Water District for the construction at the intersection. A tender of defense and indemnification had also been made to Choctaw Contractor’s Inc., the contractors performing the construction. Plaintiff’s Life Care Plan was $12.3 Million dollars. Realistic exposure (joint and several) was over $21 Million dollars.

RESULT: In Phase I of the trial, the City won on its cross-complaint against the Palmdale Water District, thus ensuring the Water District would be potentially responsible for an adverse verdict in favor of plaintiffs. During the Phase II jury trial (involving 3 defendant entities), plaintiffs dropped their demand and settled globally for $13.5 Million dollars. The City’s insurer paid $4.5 Million dollars, with the other codefendants paying the remainder. Furthermore, the City was successful in having all of its defense costs and attorneys fees paid for by co-defendant’s insurer.


Michael LeFeele v. City of Palmdale, et al.

FACTS: This is a slip and fall lawsuit in which Plaintiff, a minor, alleged that he slipped on ice on the sidewalk, injuring his teeth. The neighboring property owner was responsible for the ice, as it occurred due to runoff from her sprinklers. She was cited by the City of Palmdale for the Code violation.

RESULT: The City’s demurrer to the complaint was sustained without leave to amend, with the Court agreeing with us that the plaintiff could not state a cause of action against the City due to his failure to comply with the technical requirements of the Government Tort Claims Act.


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