Claim Is Denied in Fashion Island Death

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The city has denied a $10-million claim filed by Lisa Eisenberg, who alleges that the city is responsible for the death of her husband, Jay Richard Eisenberg, who was struck and killed by a van as he ran across a street in a crosswalk at Fashion Island last July.

The claim was rejected last month by City Manager Kevin J. Murphy. “There’s a very large claim that’s being made here and the city is clearly not liable,” Murphy said.

Eisenberg, 31, said in the claim that the city and state are liable for her husband’s death for having “negligently . . . designed, controlled and maintained Newport Center Drive.” She added that the curved street is a speedway for some motorists, making it a danger to pedestrians.


Her 33-year-old husband, an attorney whose law firm had just opened up a branch office in Newport Beach the day he was killed, was struck on Newport Center Drive midway between Santa Rosa Drive and Santa Cruz Road, where the posted speed limit is 40 m.p.h.

The driver of the van that killed him was not charged, police said.

Eisenberg’s attorney, Sanford M. Gage of Beverly Hills, said a lawsuit will be filed in Superior Court for an unspecified amount in damages. He said the crosswalk “is just not adequately signed to protect pedestrians. Had it been, it would have made a difference.”

Eisenberg said she should “be compensated. I lost my best friend. My son’s never going to get to know his father and you can’t replace that,” said Eisenberg, whose son, Samuel, was 2 weeks old when his father died.

In October, employees in the office building where Jay Eisenberg worked presented the city with a petition signed by 64 people urging that crosswalks on Newport Center Drive be made safer for pedestrian traffic by posting stop signs or a traffic light at the spot where Eisenberg crossed.

“The cars on that street swerve to avoid slowing down. Nobody stops. It’s just a very dangerous raceway out there,” said Linda Black, who works for another law firm with an office there. “We knew someone would get hit and unfortunately someone did.”

Traffic Engineer Richard Edmonston said, however, that in the street’s more than two decades of existence no one but Eisenberg has ever been hurt on that stretch of road. He said the city’s Traffic Affairs Committee has been considering installing a stop sign at the crosswalk where Eisenberg got hit, but it would be unusual because it is not an intersection.


“We’ve taken some counts and found that a couple hundred people cross there every day, and no other accidents involving pedestrians have taken place there,” he said. “But, our biggest concern is protecting the next person even if it does make us look guilty.”