L.A. Is Urged to Pay Injured Motorcyclist $1.15 Million

The Los Angeles County Claims Board recommended Wednesday that the county pay $1.15 million to a former Lockheed employee who was crippled when his motorcycle veered out of control on a rock-strewn county road.

The June 25, 1983, accident on Bouquet Canyon Road in Newhall left James Burghardt, 23, a quadriplegic.

A county report said the accident occurred as Burghardt rounded a curve near the Big Oaks Lodge and hit a rock. The motorcycle flew into the air and landed on Burghardt's back, county officials said.

Two other motorcyclists who witnessed the accident and photographs taken at the scene confirmed Burghardt's allegations that the road was strewn with debris.

Burghardt claimed that the accumulation of rocks and the county's failure to clear them away created a substantial risk to users of the road.

Nancy Singer, an adviser in the county auditor-controller's office, said the claims board was advised to make a recommendation in favor of the settlement, "in view of the law which says that the county is responsible for maintenance" of county roadways.

Burghardt alleged that the county was aware of at least eight previous accidents, two involving rocks or debris, on the same curve.

The recommendation by the claims board will be considered April 1 by the Board of Supervisors, which rules on all county claims exceeding $100,000.

If approved, the settlement will be one of the largest paid by the county since 1983.

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