Los Angeles will pay $15 million to end a legal battle involving a man who was gravely injured by a car while crossing Franklin Avenue. His attorneys had accused the city of failing to address dangerous conditions at the Hollywood intersection.
John Leopold Victoria was crossing Franklin Avenue in a marked crosswalk near Las Palmas Avenue four years ago when he was struck and injured by a vehicle being driven west, according to his lawsuit. The crash put Victoria in a coma for months and left him with permanent brain damage.
He and his mother sued both the driver and the city, arguing that the intersection was poorly designed and that traffic laws were not properly enforced. In legal filings, his attorneys alleged that warning signs and markings for the crosswalk were obscured or in "wrong locations," and that the area had a "significant accident history."
It was "reasonably foreseeable to the city … that a person crossing the intersection would get hit by a motor vehicle," the lawsuit asserted.
The city attorney's office declined to comment Wednesday on the settlement. In a legal filing responding to the claims two years ago, the city argued that the damages were "caused and contributed to by the negligence of other persons" and that Victoria "knew and understood the degree of risk involved."
The Los Angeles City Council approved the payment after meeting behind closed doors Wednesday. The payout will be spread over three years, city officials said.
Daniel Balaban, one of the attorneys representing Victoria, said the money would go a long way toward taking care of his client, who is a Navy veteran and served in Afghanistan.
"He was a great guy," Balaban said. Today, "he needs 24/7 care. He's a young child in an adult's body — and always will be."
Balaban added that the city had assured them it was modifying the Franklin Avenue crosswalk to make it safer, though those changes were not part of the settlement.
L.A. has faced a string of costly settlements tied to injuries on its roads. Last week, the council approved a $7.5-million payout to end a lawsuit from a bicyclist who was left a quadriplegic after his front wheel struck a patch of damaged pavement and he crashed. A month earlier, the city agreed to pay $6.5 million to settle another suit from a cyclist who suffered a brain injury after hitting a pothole.