A Compton woman whose 22-month-old daughter was accidentally run over by a pickup truck driven by her mother’s boyfriend in 2016 won a round in court when a judge ruled her lawyers can depose a key potential witness.
Elizabeth Moreno maintains in her Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit that the alleged failure of landlords Pedro and Rosa Alvarado to fix the front door of the home they rented to the plaintiff allowed the toddler to open it by herself just before she was killed.
On Tuesday, Judge Stephen I. Goorvitch ruled that Moreno’s attorney may depose Roger Thomas, who installed the door through which the girl, Natalia Trinidad, left the building prior to her death. Thomas was ordered to submit to the deposition within 30 days.
The toddler died at the scene of the accident, which occurred shortly after 10 p.m. June 26, 2016, in the 600 block of North Willow Avenue.
`When homicide detectives arrived, they learned that the mother’s boyfriend was not aware (the) child followed him outside of the home when he was backing his pickup truck out of the driveway,” sheriff’s Deputy Lisa Jansen said then. “As he was backing his truck out, he felt the truck run over an unknown object.”
Jansen said the driver, whose name was withheld, “did not appear to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol” and there were “no obvious signs of foul play.”
According to the lawsuit, the property where Moreno lived with her daughter “was in a complete state of dilapidation,” with the living area linked “by an improperly, illegally and recklessly enclosed patio area.”
The patio had a front door that was “broken and unfit for use,” according to the complaint. “As a result … Natalia was able to push open the dangerous door and walk into the driveway … where she was struck by a reversing automobile, causing her major crush trauma eventually resulting in her death.”
The driveway also was in such poor condition that it violated the Compton municipal code, the suit alleges.
Moreno, realizing that her daughter walked away from her, went outside after hearing the truck and saw the child under the vehicle, the suit says.
“Rushing to her daughter, she watched as the life left the 1-year-old,” the suit states.