Cyclist’s widower files claim against city

The husband of a 58-year-old cyclist who was killed while biking in Newport Beach has filed a damages claim against the city.

In August, Debra Deem of Laguna Beach was riding west on East Coast Highway when she and a white minivan collided just east of Newport Coast Drive, police said at the time.

Despite the fact that she was wearing a helmet, she suffered major head trauma and died a day after the crash, police said.

In a claim against the city of Newport Beach received in February, Paul Deem alleges that the city was negligent in maintaining that stretch of highway.

A claim is often the first step in a lawsuit if a settlement can’t be reached.

Deem’s claim alleges that the city’s negligence created a dangerous situation for bicyclists heading westbound in that area, resulting in his wife’s death.

But lawyers for the city say that stretch of Coast Highway is outside Newport Beach’s jurisdiction.

The California Department of Transportation is responsible for maintaining that area of the road, and the city is working to show that to Deem and his lawyer, Asst. City Attorney Jason Guyser said Friday.

A spokesman for Caltrans said there are portions of Coast Highway that are under its jurisdiction and some under the city’s purview.

Caltrans also received a claim but declined to comment.

“We don’t respond to cases in active litigation,” spokesman David Richardson said.

Criminal charges are also pending in Debra Deem’s death.

In January, the Orange County district attorney’s office charged Robert Anderson, 84, of Irvine, with vehicular manslaughter.

Prosecutors say he made an unsafe lane change, causing the bicyclist’s death.

Anderson pleaded not guilty in March. If convicted, he could face up to a year in jail.

Paul Deem’s lawyer could not be reached Friday afternoon.