Defense Verdict in Dangerous Condition of Public Property Lawsuit

On February 25, 2015, Partner Mark Hazelwood and associate Kimberly Chin obtained a defense verdict in Henry Lopez v. City of Fremont, et al., a consolidated action against the City of Fremont (“City”) and the Alameda County Water District (“District”). After Kimberly was successful in obtaining dismissals by summary adjudication of the causes of action for breach of mandatory duty under Government Code section 815.6 and public employee negligence under Government Code section 815.2, the case proceeded to trial on a claim of dangerous condition of public property under Government Code section 835.

Mr. Lopez claimed that a dangerous condition of public property existed due to the alleged failure of the District and the City’s traffic control set up to provide warning signs or barriers around a construction trench, which was located in the eastbound traffic lanes of Mowry Avenue in Fremont, California. Mr. Lopez, who had been riding his bicycle against the direction of traffic in the eastbound lanes, failed to see the trench and fell into it.

At trial, Mark and Kimberly showed that Mr. Lopez violated the California Vehicle Code when he rode his bicycle in the opposite direction of traffic, that there was no obstruction in the westbound lanes that prevented Mr. Lopez from riding in those lanes, and that the traffic control setup around the trench conformed with all applicable guidelines.

After a jury trial before Judge Lawrence Appel in Alameda County Superior Court, the jury returned a special verdict finding there was no dangerous condition of public property.