The parents of a 20-year-old man killed when his motorcycle struck a metal chain stretched across a paved pathway near the Lincoln Dam in Montebello in 2018 won a round in court Monday when a judge ruled they can move forward with their lawsuit against Los Angeles County.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Richard J. Burdge rejected arguments by defense attorneys, who maintained the county was immune from liability in the suit brought in October 2019 by Alexandro Villaras and Diana Alvarez.
The suit alleges a dangerous condition of public property existed because there were no lights, reflectors or other warnings of the chain’s presence. Los Angeles County owned the property where the accident occurred and knew of the dangerous condition created by the chain, but failed to warn visitors like the plaintiffs’ son, according to the suit.
The plaintiffs also sued the city of Montebello, which has since been dismissed as a defendant.
Lawyers for Los Angeles County argued in their court papers that the county was immune from liability under the state Government Code because the accident occurred on a trail rather than a roadway.
The judge disagreed, stating that the latest version of the lawsuit “clearly alleges now that the accident occurred on a roadway for motorized vehicles.”
According to the suit, Montebello resident Lxandro Villar’s motorcycle hit the chain about 1:30 a.m. on Dec. 26, 2018, as he was approaching the parking lot of the Lincoln Dam. He fell off the motorcycle and his chest hit the pavement.
The large gate that normally was closed across the pathway was broken and the chain was put there in its place, according to the lawsuit.
Villar was taken to Beverly Hospital in Montebello, where doctors were unable to save him. A copy of the coroner’s report attached to the lawsuit stated the cause of death was blunt torso trauma, and a copy of a page of Villar’s medical records showed he was not wearing a helmet when the accident occurred.