School District to Settle Suit by Man Paralyzed in Crash

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The Torrance Unified School District agreed Thursday to pay an undisclosed sum to a Rolling Hills Estates man who was paralyzed in a traffic accident near South High School.

The settlement came one week into a civil trial in which James Carroll, 28, claimed the school district was negligent in the accident that led to his becoming a quadriplegic. The amount to be paid to Carroll was not disclosed because Torrance Superior Court Judge Gary Hastings said he feared publicity could prejudice jurors in the case.

The jury is scheduled to resume hearing evidence next week against the city of Torrance and one of the drivers involved in the crash.


Carroll’s attorney, Thomas Stolpman of Wilmington, said his client is relieved to have at least part of the lawsuit resolved.

“A settlement is always a favorable outcome for a client, especially a profoundly injured victim like Jimmy,” Stolpman said. “It’s not enough to take care of him for the rest of his life, but it’s something anyway . . . and it’s also a recognition that this accident was preventable.”

School district officials did not return telephone calls seeking comment. A spokeswoman for the district’s insurance company, Industrial Indemnity, said a settlement does not imply the district was at fault.

“It is not intended to be an admission of liability,” she said.

Attorneys said the judge is expected to approve the settlement at a court hearing Thursday.

Stolpman said he also has submitted a formal settlement offer to the city of Torrance. The City Council will consider it Tuesday night.

Another offer to settle was made to Soo Yang of Torrance, a driver whose car allegedly blocked the path of a truck Carroll was riding in, causing it to veer out of control and crash. That offer is contingent on the city’s acceptance, Stolpman said.


On Nov. 8, 1985, Carroll’s neck was broken when the truck in which he was riding veered suddenly around Yang’s car as she tried to turn left from a South High School exit onto Calle Mayor. The truck collided with a utility pole.

None of the other four people in the two vehicles were seriously hurt. Carroll has only limited motion in his arms and hands and must rely on the assistance of people and a trained dog to perform even the most routine tasks.

According to Stolpman, the accident was caused in part by a failure of the Torrance Police Department to maintain traffic controls long enough after a football game at the school.

Carroll already has settled with five of the original plaintiffs in his lawsuit: The insurance company for the truck’s driver, Mark Allison, paid $100,000; Brahma of California, the manufacturer of the camper shell in which Carroll was seated, paid $60,000; Vern’s Campershells, which sold the shell, settled for $7,500; Toyota paid $50,000 to settle the liability for three of its subsidiaries, and General Telephone, which had installed the utility pole involved in the crash, paid $5,000.