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L.A. agrees to pay $5 million to the family of a man killed crossing the street in Playa del Rey

The Los Angeles City Council has agreed to pay $5 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the parents of a man who was struck and killed as he crossed the street near Dockweiler Beach in Playa del Rey.

Michael Lockridge, 21, was killed just before midnight in April of 2016 as he and his girlfriend crossed Vista del Mar to reach their parked car. Lockridge was struck by two drivers and died at the scene.

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His parents sued Los Angeles, alleging that the city was responsible for Lockridge’s death. The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court in 2017, said city officials were aware that Vista del Mar’s design posed a danger to pedestrians but had failed to correct it.

(Laura J. Nelson / Los Angeles Times)

Vista del Mar runs parallel to the ocean and is a common parking spot for people headed to the Dockweiler Beach fire pits.

City officials created a “pedestrian trap” along Vista del Mar by failing to install crosswalks or street lighting, the complaint said. Lockridge was killed a mile from the closest crosswalk, the lawsuit said.

The attorneys for Lockridge’s family did not respond to a request seeking comment.

“We know that Michael’s parents’ hearts are broken with this tragic loss,” said Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for City Atty. Mike Feuer. “We hope they can find some solace in today’s result.”

The $5-million settlement, approved in closed session at Wednesday’s City Council meeting, is the latest in a string of costly settlements linked to allegations of dangerous conditions on L.A.’s streets, sidewalks and bicycle lanes.

The year before Lockridge’s death, 16-year-old Naomi Larsen was struck and killed by a taxi driver on Vista del Mar as she and her friends left Dockweiler Beach.

The City Council approved a $9.5-million payment to settle a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by Larsen’s parents. City lawyers told lawmakers at the time that defending the case would be difficult because Los Angeles had failed to take steps to protect pedestrians there despite repeated collisions.

After the $9.5-million settlement, transportation officials hastily narrowed Vista del Mar to one lane in each direction and shifted all the parking to the beach side of the street, in an effort to reduce the city’s liability before summer crowds began descending.

The redesign occurred with little warning for commuters who use Vista del Mar as an alternative to the 405 Freeway and coincided with lane reductions on three other streets in Playa del Rey.

The collective traffic delays sparked outrage and frustration from commuters, a flood of calls to City Hall and an unsuccessful recall effort against Westside Councilman Mike Bonin.

The lane reductions were reversed two months later, with Bonin admitting that “most people outright hated” the Vista del Mar redesign.

Vista del Mar’s four traffic lanes have been restored, but on-street parking has been restricted and shifted to a county-owned parking lot nearby. The hope, officials said, is that the design will cut down on the number of people crossing the street.

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