It isn't often that you see this, but the City of San Diego is paying $1.8 million dollars to the family of a motorcyclist who was killed when a driver made a left hand turn in front of him.
Of course, in this kind of a situation, an attorney looks for a deep pocket that may
be a viable defendant. Here, it turned out that the intersection near Little Italy in San Diego had been causing accidents for 12 years.
The family of motorcyclist Kenneth Charles Sully, 58, sued the city after he was hit and killed by a Toyota Corolla in April 2009 at the intersection where the Pacific Highway and Cedar Street meet. City records show a dozen other accidents at that location had occurred from 2006 to 2009, including two after Sully was killed.
The Ducati Sully was riding was cut off by a Toyota Corolla driven by a 17 year old female. However, the intersection not only needed a turn signal, but the setup of it was misleading as well. When the Ducati hit the car, the driver suffered brain injuries that killed him later.
The City Council unanimously approved the settlement as civic watchdogs questioned why the city was paying anything at all in an accident that involved two private parties. The city doesn't acknowledge any wrongdoing under this deal.
City Attorney Jan Goldsmith explained that the city had been slow to address the complaints about the intersection's dangers after a left-turn lane was created on southbound Pacific Highway back in 1997. The city didn't make a left-turn yield sign or a turn signal at all, which left the impression that drivers could turn left -- into oncoming traffic -- once the signal turned green.
Many attempts to fix the problem failed through the years because of budget problems and employee incompetence, Goldsmith said.
"In this case, I am appalled and I have communicated that," he said. "We have to understand that public safety is not just police and fire, but the engineers and our streets and transportation division that protect us every day by making our flow of traffic safe. They are extremely important budget-wise and safety-wise and they cannot skimp. They must do better."
Goldsmith added, "A word to the wise of those working in this city who are responsible for the safety of our people there is a zero tolerance in this city for this kind of ignoring of public safety and well being."