The Los Angeles City Council agreed Wednesday to spend $15 million to settle a lawsuit alleging that the city knowingly ignored the dangers of a North Hollywood intersection that lacked a stoplight before a car struck two sisters crossing the street there, killing one and severely injuring the other.
The two girls were walking in a crosswalk at Laurel Canyon Boulevard and Archwood Street on the evening of Nov. 2, 2010, when they were hit by a Jeep Wrangler.
The collision killed Emely Aleman, 12, and left Angela Killings-Rodriguez, then 10, a quadriplegic.
Family members of the two girls sued the city Los Angeles for damages, alleging that the city knew the crossing was dangerous in light of past accidents that injured or killed pedestrians, yet failed to take prompt action to properly control traffic.
City lawyers denied those allegations and the legal battle went to a state appeals court before the city and the family reached a settlement.
Attorney Gary Dordick, who represented the family, said the settlement money will ensure lifelong medical care for the injured girl, allowing her to move out of an institution and live with her family,
“The city did the right thing to resolve this case,” Dordick said. He said the city had been at risk of paying more than $50 million in the case.
The deadly accident spurred demands for a traffic light at the North Hollywood intersection. Months after the collision, City Councilman Paul Krekorian announced construction was beginning on a traffic signal there sooner than had been originally planned, saying that the busy street “had long been in need of more safety measures.”
Krekorian said Wednesday that he didn’t know why the light hadn’t been installed earlier, noting that the incident happened early in his council career. He called the settlement “completely appropriate.”
“This is a family that has been devastated, a young woman whose life has been severely disrupted in unthinkable ways, and this was all due to the fact that a driver was inattentive when two pedestrians were trying to cross the street in a crosswalk,” the councilman said.
Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for City Atty. Mike Feuer, described the accident as a tragedy.
“We hope that this settlement will bring some comfort and enable Angela to come home to live with her family,” Wilcox said in a statement Wednesday after the City Council vote.
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