Family of woman fatally hit by car on Venice boardwalk files lawsuit

Family of Italian honeymooner fatally struck by car on Venice boardwalk files lawsuit against city, county

The family of an Italian woman fatally struck by a car on the crowded Venice Beach boardwalk claims in a lawsuit that the city and county of Los Angeles failed to provide adequate protection for pedestrians on the busy walkway.

Attorneys for the parents and husband of Alice Gruppioni contend the boardwalk was in "dangerous condition" when the 32-year-old was struck Aug. 3 by a car driven by Nathan Campbell, 38, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Campbell was able to enter the boardwalk from adjacent Dudley Avenue and then drive his car, unimpeded, because the city and county did not provide adequate barriers and bollards to prevent unauthorized vehicles from driving on or near the thoroughfare, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims the city and county of Los Angeles had knowledge of the "dangerous condition" and had received public complaints about increased vehicle traffic and the "inadequacy of existing measures" to prevent vehicles from accessing the popular pathway.   

"The City and County knew that upwards of 15 cars were driving on the Boardwalk every day -- that is simply unacceptable from a public safety standpoint," said attorney Gregory L. Bentley in a statement. "This tragedy should never have happened."

Through a spokesman, the city attorney's office declined to comment.

Campbell, a Colorado native, is also accused of injuring 17 others, including Gruppioni's newlywed husband, Christian Casadei.

Campbell pleaded not guilty in January to the murder charge, 17 counts of assault with a deadly weapon, including three with great bodily injury,  and 10 counts of hit-and-run. 

He is being held in lieu of $1.48 million bail; his next court appearance is scheduled for Aug. 11, according to online sheriff's booking records.

During a preliminary hearing in December, witness testimony reinforced video surveillance footage showing Campbell's 2008 Dodge Avenger ramming past a barrier post onto the pedestrian walkway before it struck people and careened for at least half a mile.

Witnesses testified the car deliberately struck people, even as they tried to avoid it, while zigging and zagging down the boardwalk.

The car rammed an automated teller machine, turned over tents and tables and tossed jewelry and other goods into the air. Gruppioni and Casadei were on the boardwalk near Paloma Avenue when they were struck, according to the lawsuit.

Born and raised in Pianoro, a small town near Bologna, Italy, Gruppioni was envisaged to head the family's radiator manufacturing business when her father, Valerio, retired. She and her husband were honeymooning in Los Angeles when she was killed.

"My wife and I adored Alice," Valerio Gruppioni said in a statement. "We want to know why the people making decisions in Los Angeles didn't do all they could to protect my daughter and every other daughter who visits that boardwalk."

For breaking news in Los Angeles and the Southland, follow @debbietruong or email her at debbie.truong@latimes.com.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
65°