Newport Beach Settles Lawsuit by Paralyzed Diver

Times Staff Writer

A controversial lawsuit that triggered legislation protecting beach cities from many water-related accident claims has been settled.

The case was filed by John Taylor, who at 19 dove into the ocean near the Balboa Pier and sustained injuries that left him a quadriplegic. An Orange County jury returned a $6-million verdict on Taylor's behalf against the City of Newport Beach.

Jurors found the city should have posted lifeguards and taken greater steps to warn swimmers about hazards from shifting underwater sand bars.

The settlement will be paid by Newport Beach's insurer, Transcontinental Insurance of Chicago, according to Patrick Quinlivan, lawyer for the firm.

The 1984 Taylor verdict spotlighted problems many municipalities were beginning to have in finding adequate liability insurance. Since then, many cities have been unable to obtain coverage at any price and have either gone without insurance or joined pools in which municipalities share the financial risks.

Spokesmen for Herbert Hafif, who represented Taylor, and the City of Newport Beach confirmed a settlement of the lawsuit has taken place. Both declined to state the terms of the settlement.

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