CITY HALL — A wrongful death lawsuit against the city filed by the wife of a man who allegedly died from injuries sustained during a fall at the historical Casa Adobe de San Rafael is scheduled to go to trial this month.
Hasmik Khanbabayan filed the lawsuit in May 2008, a year after her husband, Vahan Karapetian, allegedly fell while stepping off a porch of the historical building at the city’s Casa Adobe park. He was hospitalized for a fractured hip and shoulder, according to the complaint filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court. There were no witnesses to his fall.
Karapetian, who was in his 80s, was treated at Glendale Adventist Medical Center, where he died after being in the hospital for more than two months, according to the complaint.
Khanbabayan is alleging in the lawsuit that the porch her husband fell from was unsafe, and that there were inadequate security patrols, which left him “laying on the ground for 45 minutes in a pool of his own blood.”
She is seeking unspecified compensation for medical and funeral expenses and damages for distress. Her attorney, Koorosh Shahrokh, declined to comment Wednesday.
With mediation attempts unsuccessful, a jury trial is scheduled to start March 15 at the Burbank courthouse, but attorneys for both sides said the case could be continued to a future trial date.
City officials countered that Karapetian’s alleged fall was not caused by city negligence.
“The city’s position is that there is no liability on the part of the city because there was nothing dangerous about the front porch,” said Assistant City Atty. Steven Weitz.
In a Superior Court filing, city officials pointed to Karapetian’s age and previous medical conditions as likely contributors to his death as opposed to his initial injuries caused by the “seemingly minor fall.”
“He had long-standing previous medical conditions,” Weitz said.
The case has been drawn out for more than a year in part to allow for the disposition of more than a dozen expert witnesses hired by both sides.
The city has retained several medical experts to determine which injuries were caused by the accident and what relationship, if any, they had to his death.
The City Council discussed the case in closed session Tuesday.