A man who lost his legs in 2017 after he was hit by a truck driven by a city of Los Angeles employee while standing outside his disabled Mercedes-Benz was awarded $23 million Wednesday by the City Council.
Gabriel Abikzer and his wife Maria filed a lawsuit in 2018 against the city and Daimler AG, the Mercedes-Benz U.S. subsidiary.
Abikzer was driving his young son to school on Oct. 23, 2017 when the car’s engine suddenly turned off while he was on Mason Avenue, south of Corbin Avenue, and would not restart, the suit alleged.
Abikzer got out of his car and was trying to remove some items from his trunk when he was hit by a truck driven by Jeffery Eric Joel, a city building inspector whose job was to drive to and from construction sites, the suit stated.
Both of Abikzer’s legs had to be amputated, according to the suit. The complaint alleges that had the ECO system not been defective, Abikzer would not have been standing outside his car and hit by Joel, who allegedly was driving negligently.
Mercedes-Benz blamed the ECO problem on “glitches in the software program,” according to the lawsuit.
The City Council voted unanimously in closed session to pay Abikzer $11.5 million now and another $11.5 by July, according to city documents. Applicable interest applies to those payments.
Abikzer said his 2015 Mercedes-Benz S550 was equipped with the ECO Start/Stop technology, which the German car manufacturer touted as allowing drivers to save fuel and reduce emissions without altering anything about their driving.
According to the lawsuit, the ECO system — which is supposed to turn off a car’s engine when it is stationary so that fuel can be saved, then restart the car when the accelerator is pressed — was defective because some cars stalled without warning and would not restart like they were supposed to.
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