City found 75% liable for fatal lack of sidewalks
- 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
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
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
"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.