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Lawsuit Arises After Last Year’s Vehicle Incident on Venice’s Ocean Front Walk

 

A negligence suit has been filed against the city of Los Angeles.
A negligence suit has been filed against the city of Los Angeles.

A woman and her boyfriend who were injured after being struck by a car that plowed through people on Venice’s Ocean Front Walk last year — the same incident in which a 32-year-old Italian woman was killed –– filed a negligence suit against the city of Los Angeles.

Nancy R. Martinez and Jose Enrique Gutierrez filed the lawsuit Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging the city did not do enough prevent such an accident from occurring by installing more traffic barriers. They seek unspecified damages.

A car allegedly driven by 39-year-old Nathan Louis Campbell of Colorado struck 17 people, injuring 16 and killing Alice Gruppioni, an Italian woman on her honeymoon at about 6 p.m. last Aug. 3. The 32-year-old died of blunt force trauma to the head and neck, according to the coroner’s office.

Police said Campbell turned himself in to police about an hour after the hit-and-run.

According to the lawsuit, Martinez and Gutierrez were on the boardwalk near the 100 block of Dudley Avenue when they were struck by the car. The driver was able to get onto the boardwalk by passing through “ample space” between the southernmost traffic bollard and the Cadillac Hotel, the suit states.

The boardwalk at the time was “teeming with thousands of pedestrians,” the suit states.

Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for the City Attorney’s office, said he had no immediate comment on the suit.

City officials were aware the boardwalk is visited by “hundreds of thousands, if not millions of visitors each year,” yet there were insufficient bollards or other traffic impediments in place to help prevent such accidents, the suit states.

Los Angeles officials also knew that less than three miles away, a car struck and killed 10 people at the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market in July 2003, prompting that city to put up metal bollards to minimize the chance of a repeat of the tragedy, the suit states.

Martinez and Gutierrez testified during Campbell’s preliminary hearing in December. Martinez appeared in court in a wheelchair with a brace around hertorso. She said she suffered a spinal fracture that allows her to walk only short distances with a cane.

Gutierrez suffered less serious injuries to his back.

Recreation and Parks officials have estimated it would cost about $1.2 million to install retractable bollards at five of the 32 streets that cross the beach boardwalk.

The automated barriers, which could be lowered to allow emergency vehicles to go through, would impede drivers who mistake the pedestrian area of the boardwalk for a road, especially at intersections that lead to parking lots.

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