Roadway Design

Public Entity Liability: Inadequate Roadway Lighting

By on September 18, 2012 - Comments off

Mixon v. State of California, (First District, May 29, 2012), 142 Cal.Rptr.3d 633, 12 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 7187, 2012 Daily Journal D.A.R. 8627

A four-year old boy who was suffered severe brain injuries when he was hit by a car while walking in a crosswalk at an intersection, filed suit against the State of California, contending that the nighttime accident was caused by a dangerous condition of public property under Government Code § 835. The plaintiff, along with his siblings who witnessed the impact, alleged, inter alia, that the lighting at the site of the crosswalk was inadequate, in that the nearest street light was 29 feet from the intersection. The plaintiffs further alleged that the location was made especially dangerous because the poorly lit intersection contrasted sharply with better lit areas surrounding it.

The trial court granted summary judgment, finding that the intersection was not in a dangerous condition and that there was no duty to provide lighting. The court of appeal affirmed, rejecting the plaintiffs’ argument that the State had negligently undertaken to provide lighting in the area: Read the rest »


Roadway Design: Admissibility of Prior Accidents

By on January 7, 2012 - Comments off

Ceja v. Department of Transportation, (Fifth District, November 12, 2011) 2011 WL 6307881, — Cal.Rptr. 3d —-

The heirs of two men who were killed when their vehicle crossed a center median on a six-lane state highway and collided with oncoming vehicles, filed an action for wrongful death against the Department of Transportation. The plaintiffs alleged that the roadway was in a dangerous condition due the absence of a median barrier to prevent cross-median accidents, despite a number of prior similar collisions. At trial the plaintiffs introduced evidence showing there had been a history of accidents at the location, and that several years earlier state engineers had recommended a barrier, which had not yet been installed as of the 2003 accident.

The trial court granted a motion in limine to exclude evidence of accidents which had occurred prior to 1994, when the roadway had been widened from 4 lanes to 6, finding that the conditions were substantially different than those which existed at the time of the accident. Following a jury verdict in favor of the State, the plaintiffs appealed, contending that the trial court had erroneously excluded the pre-1994 accidents. However, the court of appeal affirmed the judgment, holding that the trial court had not abused its discretion in excluding accidents which had occurred before the highway was substantially changed: Read the rest »