Los Angeles OKs $6.5 million to settle lawsuit after cyclist hit a pothole

Los Angeles has paid millions of dollars in settlements or legal judgment payments for bicycle accidents linked to dangerous road conditions.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles will pay $6.5 million to settle a lawsuit from a man who suffered severe injuries after his bicycle hit a pothole in Sherman Oaks, lawmakers agreed Wednesday.

Two years ago, Peter Godefroy lost control of his bicycle when it hit a pothole on Valley Vista Boulevard, throwing him to the ground. The crash left him with broken bones and a severe traumatic brain injury, according to his suit.

He and his wife, Patricia, sued the city, the county and the state, arguing that the street he was bicycling on was so poorly maintained that it had created a “concealed trap for bicyclists.” As a result of government negligence, the lawsuit claimed, Godefroy had suffered injuries so severe that he expected to have “some permanent disability.”

The Los Angeles City Council voted 11 to 0 on Wednesday to approve the $6.5-million settlement.


“We are happy that the city has taken responsibility for the safety of the roadway at issue that caused Mr. Godefroy’s life-changing injury,” his attorney, Spencer Lucas, said in a statement following the vote. “We are proud of the bravery that Peter and his family have shown throughout this case and hope that this settlement can improve the quality of his life despite his ongoing injuries.”

Los Angeles has been sued repeatedly over road conditions following gruesome crashes.

In the spring, the city agreed to spend $4.5 million to settle a lawsuit from the family of Edgardo Gabat, a 56-year-old man who was thrown from his bicycle and killed after hitting uneven pavement in Eagle Rock. Los Angeles approved more than $15 million in settlements or legal judgment payments for bicycle accidents linked to dangerous road conditions during the last budget year, according to a motion filed recently by City Councilman Paul Krekorian.

Krekorian, who represents part of the San Fernando Valley, declined to discuss the Godefroy case Wednesday but said the city must ensure that bicyclists can ride safely in Los Angeles. His motion asks officials to investigate the current condition of bicycle lanes across the city and figure out how much time and money it would take to fix them.

“We need to make sure they have pavement that is safe to ride on,” Krekorian said.

Twitter: @LATimesEmily