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Name:Michael Patrick
Location:San Jose, California, United States

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Friday, September 24


Walk, and Your City Will Lose a Lawsuit Over Your Wrongful Death

So, cities can be found liable for not providing sidewalks?

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."

How many communities build streets without sidewalks? How commonly are pedestrians on nonrural, suburban streets--places of population, as opposed to distant farm roads--forced to walk on lawns or shoulders or gravelly patches of land or drainage ditches in order to avoid being hit by a car? Very.

Surely a municipality cannot be held responsible for all its jurisdiction's bad drivers, and this case probably involved subtleties that makes "failing to construct sidewalks" an oversimplification of the issue. However, I suppose many cities can find within themselves dangerous circumstances resembling that which lead Fontana into losing a lawsuit, and they should watch out for potential suits if Fontana does not win an appeal on its.