Laguna Beach : City Likely to Appeal in $2-Million Injury Verdict

A $2-million jury verdict in favor of a Long Beach man injured in a 1979 car crash probably will be appealed by the City of Laguna Beach, City Manager Ken Frank said Thursday.

The verdict in favor of Nathan Blue, 35, found the driver to be 65% negligent for drinking and for driving about twice the 25 m.p.h. speed limit on a city street. The jury found the city 35% negligent for a poorly designed intersection that created a dangerous condition.

Blue’s attorney, Thomas V. Girardi of Santa Monica, said Blue was getting a ride home from co-worker David Brown on Nov. 8, 1979, when Brown had to make a short but sharp jog to the right on Cypress Drive as it crossed Aster Street and then had to follow an improperly banked left curve as the road declined slightly. Brown lost control and hit two parked cars.

Blue and Brown, 27, had had a few drinks after work, and Brown pleaded guilty to drunk driving. Brown was uninsured, and a legal doctrine will allow Blue to collect the entire amount of damages from the city.


The city’s lawyer, Robert W. Castleberry of Tustin, said that doctrine would be one of the issues on appeal. Frank said other issues would involve Blue’s possible negligence in getting into a car with a drunk driver and the court’s refusal to consider the fact that a stop sign was installed at the intersection after the accident.

The city’s liability insurance policy requires the city to pay the first $100,000 of a claim, Castleberry said.