The city of Los Angeles may be headed for another costly payout over the condition of its sidewalks, with the City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee Monday considering a $3 million payment to a woman over a slip-and-fall incident, according to Councilman Mitchell Englander.
Holli S. Breakfield hit her head on a sidewalk in Hollywood at 1254 N. Cherokee Ave. on New Year’s Eve in 2014 after she was being carried on the back of another individual but the man “tripped on a pattern of defects,” according to her lawsuit.
During a joint meeting of the City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee and the Transportation Committee, Englander, during a discussion about financing for the city’s Vision Zero traffic safety program, mentioned that the Budget and Finance Committee would later during closed session be considering a $3 million payout of a slip-and-fall incident.
Breakfield’s lawsuit appeared to be the only item on the agenda that would fit Englander’s description. Potential settlement amounts are typically not publicly released until the full City Council votes on and approves the payout, and the full council or Budget and Finance Committee could still move to reject the settlement.
The lawsuit and potential payout for the city comes after the City Council and Mayor Eric Garcetti in 2016 approved a plan to spend $1.4 billion over 30 years to fix the city’s broken sidewalks. The amount of money was agreed to as part of a legal settlement with disability advocates.
The potential Hollywood sidewalk settlement also comes as the city is facing rising costs from legal settlements overall, including a spike related to the state of its sidewalks, bike paths and streets.
The city in 2017 paid out more than $19 million in lawsuits to settle cases involving cyclists injured or killed on city streets — four times higher than any other year over the last decade, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The city also had to briefly dip into its reserve fund during the 2016- 17 fiscal year due to the city’s high level of liability payouts, which came to more than $126 million even though only $68 million was budgeted.
According to Breakfield’s lawsuit, the sidewalk where she was injured suffered from a lack of lighting, a lack of warning about ridges, jagged edges and erosion, and was “strewn with leaves.”
The lawsuit also said she suffered a serious injury from the fall, but did not describe the injury in detail, only that it required many visits to doctors, prevented her from engaging in her usual occupation and resulted in a loss of income.
Breakfield’s lawyer, Agvavani Kasparian, did not respond to a request to comment.
The original claim filed by Breakfield against the city asked for $10.015 million in damages.
–City News Service