L.A. agrees to pay $9.5 million in wrongful death case

The Los Angeles City Council agreed Wednesday to pay $9.5 million to settle a lawsuit by the parents of a teenage girl who was fatally struck by a taxicab near Dockweiler State Beach.

Two years ago, 16-year-old Naomi Larsen had left the fire pits at the beach after midnight and was crossing Vista Del Mar with her friends when she was hit by the car, suffering injuries that led to her death weeks later.

In their suit, her parents, Stacey Larsen and Steven Potovsky, argued that the death of their daughter was a “foreseeable tragedy” because the city had failed to ensure safe ways for pedestrians to cross from the beach to their parked vehicles on the street. The highway was hazardous to pedestrians, but the city did nothing to fix the problem, the lawsuit alleged.

The city attorney’s office declined to comment on the settlement Wednesday.

In a report prepared for council members, city lawyers said it would be difficult to defend the case because Los Angeles had failed to take steps to protect beachgoers despite repeated collisions in the area. There are no crosswalks on Vista Del Mar for roughly two miles between Imperial Highway and Napoleon Street, according to the report.

Attorney William Paoli, who represented the family, said they were happy to see that the case resolved. “It’s troubling that it took the city so long to prioritize the handling of these dangerous conditions,” Paoli said. “We felt that this was something that should have been corrected well before Naomi was ever put in that position.”

Paoli said that the city had informed him that “No Parking” signs had been put up in the area temporarily so that beachgoers would not be crossing Vista Del Mar to reach their cars.

The council approved the settlement, 12-0, with council members Joe Buscaino and Jose Huizar absent.

emily.alpert@latimes.com

Twitter: @LATimesEmily


UPDATES:

2:40 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from the attorney representing the family that sued the city.

This article was originally published at 2:15 p.m.

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