Bicycle rider crashes at night due to raised sidewalk. $138K. Los Angeles County.


Tree roots damage sidewalk where bike rider falls at night when riding on sidewalk rather than in the adjacent bike lane.

The Case

  • Case Name: Larry D. Walker v. City of Pasadena, et al.
  • Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court / GC049715
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Monday, December 12, 2016
  • Type of Case: Bicycle Accident, Dangerous Condition Public Property
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Mary Ann Murphy
  • Plaintiffs:
    Larry Walker, late 50s, retired.
  • Defendants:
    City of Pasadena
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $138,062.40
  • Net Verdict or Award: $110,449.92
  • Settlement Amount: $65,000 from two neighbors whose trees' roots had caused at least some of the offset.
  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: 20% to plaintiff.
  • Economic Damages:

    Past medical: $41,722.40

    Future medical: $10,000

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Past pain and suffering: $7,500

    Future pain and suffering: $78,840

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 5 days.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 5 hours.
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Defendant filed motions for JNOV, new trial and tax costs. All denied.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Steven E. Weitz, Porter Ranch.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Pasadena City Attorney's Office by Hasmik Badalian Collins and Frank L. Rhemrev.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Michael Pearl, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Los Angeles.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):


  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Kay J. Greeley, civil engineering, Simi Valley.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):


Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On December 27, 2011 plaintiff was riding his bicycle late at night on a sidewalk alongside Lincoln Avenue in Pasadena, which is a residential street. His bicycle, which had no headlight, struck a 3-4" pyramid-shaped offset in the sidewalk, which had been previously patched with asphalt by the City of Pasadena. As it was late at night and no one was outside, plaintiff walked his bicycle home and then drove himself to the emergency room despite being injured. There were tree roots in the area that likely damaged the sidewalk.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That the offset in the sidewalk was a dangerous condition of public property for which the City of Pasadena had both actual and constructive notice. That there was no comparative negligence because the area was fairly well lit, and although the offset was visible from the curb and street, it was not when approached on the sidewalk.  Further, that the damage to the sidewalk was caused by tree roots.

    At an MSC, it was proposed that the two residential neighbors with tree roots that affected the sidewalk jointly pay a settlement of $65,000 and that the City also pay a settlement of $65,000.

    The residential neighbors accepted the settlement agreement and settled before trial. The Pasadena City Council rejected the terms of settlement and proceeded to trial.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    That the incident was not a foreseeable risk since there was a bike lane next to the sidewalk. That there was no actual or constructive notice. That there was no evidence that the incident even occurred other than plaintiff's testimony. That plaintiff's inattentiveness and lack of a headlight either caused or contributed to the incident. That the tree roots of adjacent residential properties caused the offset.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Multiple fractures of left shoulder; fracture of fourth metacarpal in right hand; soft tissue injuries of arms, legs and torso.