Arcadia : Trial Set in Motorbike Suit

A lawsuit blaming defective motorbike brakes for a disabling accident is set to go to trial as scheduled today after the state Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal by Sears, Roebuck & Co.

In the lawsuit, filed Feb. 15, 1987, Ken Soffa alleged that his son, Aaron, suffered brain damage after colliding with a car while riding a Sears-brand minibike on Monte Vista Road at Paloma Drive in Arcadia. The lawsuit alleged that defective brakes contributed to the accident.

Aaron Soffa, now 18, suffers from memory loss and confusion, according to his attorney, Harry Scolinos.

In addition to Sears, Soffa sued the City of Arcadia for failing to place a stop sign or light at the intersection, a homeowner for not trimming hedges that blocked the view of the intersection and the driver of the car for vehicular negligence.

Last month, the city settled for $20,000, and the insurance companies for the driver settled for $40,000 and the homeowner for $45,000.

After the three other defendants settled, Sears filed a petition with the court in December to block the trial, arguing that the $85,000 the insurance companies agreed to pay was insufficient, said Sears' attorney, Thomas Halliwell. Sears feared that if it went to trial alone, it could face several million dollars in liability.

Sears, however, did not contest the city's settlement.

The firm will now have to appear in court as the sole defendant because the Supreme Court's Dec. 26 decision had the effect of upholding the settlement of the two insurance companies.

Scolinos said the Soffa family is seeking $6 million in total damages, including pain and suffering, medical bills and lost earnings for Aaron. The trial is scheduled to begin in Pasadena Superior Court today.

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