CVN screenshot of plaintiff attorney Daniel Balaban delivering his opening statement. Click here to see video from the trial
Long Beach, CA - A California state court jury heard opening statements Thursday in a lawsuit accusing the City of Long Beach of placing large boulders on the median of an on-ramp that supposedly caused a single-vehicle rollover accident that left a passenger with extensive brain damage.
Plaintiff Fermin Villa sued Long Beach after the 2012 accident, when the driver of a vehicle he was riding in attempted to make a tight turn on an on-ramp. The vehicle hopped the curb and then launched off a large boulder in the median of the on-ramp, Villa’s attorney Daniel Balaban of Balaban & Spielberger told jurors during his opening statement.
Balaban told jurors the car then flipped in the air and landed on its roof, crushing it and leaving Villa with severe injuries. He said evidence would show the accident could have been prevented if the city didn’t create an unsafe condition by placing large boulders on the median of an on-ramp.
Long Beach, represented by the city attorney’s office, blames the accident entirely on the driver’s negligence and maintains the boulder did not create unsafe road conditions.
The trial is being webcast gavel-to-gavel by Courtroom View Network.
Thursday’s proceedings kick off a second trial in the long-running lawsuit. In 2015 a jury returned a defense verdict on the question of liability in the first phase of a bifurcated trial. However an appeals court ordered a new trial due to juror misconduct.
Attorneys for both Villa and the city agree the driver’s negligence contributed to the accident, although the city argues it was the sole reason for the accident, while Villa maintains it was only a factor.
In court papers Balaban stated that Villa suffers from “extensive” brain damage, along with multiple spinal injuries that left him with incomplete quadriplegia. He estimated his lost earning capacity at $3 million and medical expenses in the amount of $300,000.
The trial is taking place before Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Patrick Madden, and gavel-to-gavel access to the proceedings, both live and on-demand, is available to CVN subscribers.
Villa is also represented by Andrew Spielberger and Karen Harutyunyan of Balaban & Spielberger LLP.
The City of Long Beach is represented by Charles Parkin, Monte Machit and Theodore Zinger in the City Attorney’s office.
The case is captioned Fermin Villa v. The City of Long Beach, case number BC518613, in the Superior Court of California for Los Angeles County, Long Beach Division.
E mail David Siegel at dsiegel@cvncom