Amid temporary Superior Court restrictions on jury trials due to the coronavirus pandemic, a judge Monday declared the second mistrial this year in a lawsuit filed by a woman who was hurt in 2015 when the motorcycle on which she was a passenger collided with a car in Malibu.
Several days were spent last week choosing a dozen jurors to decide plaintiff Rosana Levine’s case before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William MacLaughlin took the action. Monday morning, four alternate jurors were left to be picked and opening statements were expected to ensue, according to Christopher Bulone, one of Levine’s lawyers.
Bulone said he was pleased with the jurors picked, all of whom were dismissed by the judge. He added that no date for a retrial was set because of the uncertainty of when jury trials will resume.
Over the weekend, Presiding Superior Court Judge Kevin Brazile notified his colleagues that no new jurors will be summoned for any civil or criminal jury trials for the next 30 days.
MacLaughlin had declared another mistrial in the case on Feb. 19 after Levine fell one day during the lunch hour, possibly in front of prospective jurors. Hoberman’s lawyers moved for a mistrial, stating that the jurors’ impartiality could have been compromised. The motion was joined by Edison attorneys and was granted by the judge.
Levine, then 54, was a passenger on a motorcycle driven by Frank Ross Samuels when Tia Jeri Hoberman made a left turn from Harbor Vista Drive onto Malibu Canyon Road. Hoberman allegedly failed to yield the right-of-way and her Audi SUV collided with the motorcycle, which was traveling north on Malibu Canyon Road.
Samuels, now 70, and Levine sued Hoberman, now 50, the city of Malibu and the Southern California Edison. Along with Hoberman’s alleged negligence, Levine maintained that Hoberman’s vision was impaired by an improperly placed Edison power pole and that the city negligently designed the intersection.
Bulone said Samuels and Levine met on Match.com and had once been in a relationship but remained friends. Both had a mutual love for the outdoors and Samuels picked her up for a motorcycle ride about 9:30 a.m. that day, he said.
Prior to the accident, which left Levine with leg and ankle injuries that required multiple surgeries, she played tennis and hiked often and was learning to golf with Samuels as her teacher, Bulone said. She also danced and took pride in her health, working out at a guy almost daily, he said.
Edison’s lawyers alleged in their court papers that Hoberman was using her cell phone at the time of the collision, talking with her real estate agent about the sale of her nearby home. She claimed she waited five minutes for a break in heavy traffic caused in part by graduation ceremonies at nearby Pepperdine University, according to Edison’s court papers.
In addition to the power pole, Hoberman maintained her vision was impaired by a curve and an incline on Malibu Canyon Road, according to Edison’s court papers.
Samuels also was hurt in the accident and reached a settlement with Hoberman, the former wife of producer and Mandeville Films founder David Hoberman, whose 40-plus film producing credits include the 2010 Oscar-nominated drama “The Fighter.” He also co-created and executive produced the USA Network television series “Monk.”
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