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City found 75% liable for fatal lack of sidewalks

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  • 9/23 Los Angeles Times
    Published Thursday, September 23, 2004, in the Los Angeles Times Death of Girl May Cost Fontana Millions By Lance Pugmire Blaming Fontana for failing to
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 23, 2004
      Published Thursday, September 23, 2004, in the Los Angeles Times

      Death of Girl May Cost Fontana Millions

      By Lance Pugmire

      Blaming Fontana for failing to construct sidewalks, a San Bernardino
      County jury has awarded $37.5 million to the parents of a 14-year-old
      girl killed when a car struck her as she walked along a busy roadway
      after school.

      Karen Medina, a student at A.B. Miller High School, was killed on
      Cypress Avenue in December 2001 when a car driven by a 15-year-old
      unlicensed driver veered out of control.

      In a verdict delivered Monday, the jury decided the city is 75% liable
      for the damages. The parents of the driver are liable for the
      remaining 25%.

      Fontana spokesman Edward Raya said the city believes Karen's death was
      due to a negligent driver, traveling more than 50 mph, and not the
      absence of sidewalks.

      "How that makes us responsible, I don't know," Raya said. "We're
      shocked at the size of this verdict. It's extremely large for an
      accident of this kind." The city will appeal, he said.

      The attorneys representing the girl's parents, Cruz and Agueda
      Miranda, argued that Fontana failed to act on reports that lack of
      sidewalks created a hazard because of the heavy volume of vehicle and
      pedestrian traffic before and after school at the 3,700-student high
      school.

      "With all these kids coming and going, people speeding on that street,
      and kids driving to and from school, this was an accident waiting to
      happen," said Arash Homampour, who represented the parents, along with
      co-counsel Reza Mirroknian. "It happened because the city didn't do
      its job. This was a preventable death."

      Homampour said Karen was less than a mile from school in a residential
      neighborhood when she was hit.

      He told jurors that the City Council had received many complaints
      about the dangerous conditions along Cypress Avenue.

      The city had money to pay for the sidewalks, but decided to apply for
      state funding for them, Homampour said. The city received the state
      money after Karen was killed. The sidewalks that were installed cost
      $6,000, contractors said.
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