Newport fights wrongful-death claims

The families of two dead bicyclists have filed wrongful-death claims this year against Newport Beach, alleging that the city let dangerous street conditions for bikers persist.

On April 29, the family of an Irvine bicyclist killed in a crash last year filed a claim accusing the city of negligence and seeking unspecified damages. A claim is a precursor to a lawsuit.

Paul Lin, 31, died in November after a collision with a car near San Joaquin Hills Road and Marguerite Avenue.

No one was arrested or cited, according to reports at the time.

The area was full of “hazards, deficiencies and/or dangerous conditions,” including mistimed signals, a lack of lighting and inadequate lane striping, that contributed to Lin’s death, according to the claim filed by Lin’s parents.

The Newport Beach City Council denied the claim, contending its streets are safe.

“After the accident, the city took a good look at the safety of this intersection and determined that the intersection, the timing of the lights and surrounding improvements were all operating appropriately and didn’t pose a risk to people using the intersection,” City Atty. Aaron Harp said in an email.

Robert Francavilla, an attorney for the Lin family, wasn’t available Tuesday afternoon and didn’t return a phone message.

Newport Beach is “very concerned” about keeping bicyclists in the city safe, according to Harp, who offered his condolences to Lin’s parents.

“We can understand the family’s need to make sense of this tragedy, but here the intersection wasn’t a cause of the accident,” he said.

In February, another wrongful-death claim involving a bicyclist in Newport Beach was filed.

Paul Deem accused the city of creating a dangerous situation for bicyclists riding on East Coast Highway near Newport Coast Drive.

That’s where his wife, Debra Deem, 58, of Laguna Beach, was killed in August when her bicycle and a white minivan collided.

Newport Beach, however, argued that Caltrans is responsible for that intersection’s upkeep.

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

Anderson has pleaded not guilty.