Council Agrees to Settle Car Crash Suit
The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday agreed to pay a $500,000 settlement to a 40-year-old Northridge woman who sued the city, claiming an improperly adjusted traffic signal system caused a 1986 auto accident that left her disabled.
By a unanimous vote and without discussion, the lawmakers agreed to settle the lawsuit filed by Jane Czech, whose injuries left her with a limp and permanent brain damage.
Czech, a physical therapist, was driving north to work on May 26, 1986, when her car was broadsided at De Soto Avenue and Parthenia Street by an eastbound car driven by Samer Faik Bisharat, the suit said.
A police report on the accident said Bisharat ran a red light, causing the accident.
But in her lawsuit Czech claimed the traffic signal at this intersection had a tendency to malfunction and that the heavy traffic patterns of the area warranted city installation of a 3.5-second-long yellow signal, not the 3-second-long signal that was in use.
The city attorney’s office said it recommended settlement, not because the city was to blame, but because of a law in effect at the time of the accident. Under that law, the city could be held liable for up to $3 million if the jury found the city even 1% responsible for the accident, the city attorney’s opinion said.
Four days after the accident, voters approved a state ballot measure limiting government agency liability in such lawsuits.