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Council rejects driver's crash claim

Attorney urges the city to 'Stand up and do what's right.'

May 10, 2011|By Joe Piasecki, joe.piasecki@latimes.com

A man who drove into a traffic median island on Verdugo Boulevard during a December downpour said he will sue the city after council members rejected his claim for damages last week.

Attorney Roderick Lipscomb, a longtime La Cañada Flintridge resident, struck the median on the evening of Dec. 20, 10 days after a distracted driver jumped the median’s curb and destroyed a lighted city welcome sign there.

City Council members discussed the claim during closed session May 2 after hearing Lipscomb argue two weeks earlier that the previous collision had knocked out lighting for the welcome sign that would have made the median more visible.

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The city’s claim adjuster recommended that council members reject the claim, finding the median should have been visible even in its damaged state due to its partially-painted curb and ground-level reflectors.

But Lipscomb argues that the paint and reflectors around the island were submerged in water and thus invisible the night of his accident.

Following Lipscomb’s crash, the city temporarily placed reflective barricades around the median’s edges and later added yellow reflective paint around the entire base of the median. The city welcome sign has since been repaired, but lighting has not yet been restored.

“Even with the curb painted yellow, I think it’s an especially dangerous condition. The streetlight does not illuminate this center island,” said Lipscomb, who is seeking $2,646.65 to repair two blown tires, damaged suspension struts and scrapes to the fender of his Honda Pilot.

City Attorney Mark Steres said officials don’t discuss the content of closed-session meetings.

Lipscomb said his next move will be to file a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court, for which he will employ a safety engineer to evaluate the median and subpoena Sheriff’s Department and local towing company records of other collisions that took place there.

While waiting for tow truck after his crash, Lipscomb said he saw another vehicle strike the median.

“I think they need to stand up and do what’s right,” Lipscomb said of city officials.
 
 

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