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Personal Injury Lawsuit and Sidewalk Accidents

Here is an example of a personal injury lawsuit and sidewalk accidents. This example comes from a personal injury lawsuit in Gilroy, California.

A 70-year-old man, Allan Sundquist of San Jose, California, was walking from Monterey Street to OD’s Kitchen when he tripped over the sidewalk at 28 Martin Street. Sundquist lost consciousness when he fell and struck his head on a tree and was taken to Saint Louise Regional Hospital. This accident took place on March 26, 2010.

Sundquist proceeded to bring a personal injury lawsuit against the City of Gilroy, the owner of the building, Santa Clara County and the owner of the business. Sundquist said that he sustained permanent cognitive damage from the incident.

$700,000 settlement


Sundquist accepted what is being referred to as a hush-hush $700,000 settlement in the personal injury lawsuit. The City of Gilroy paid $450,000.

The other $250,000 of the settlement was paid by Robert Tapella, who was at the time of the accident, the owner of Garlic City Billiards. Tapella paid part of the settlement to Sundquist because his insurance company believed it would be cheaper than fighting the personal injury lawsuit.

The real thing responsible for the accident, according to the City of Gilroy, was a Magnolia tree that is 40 years old or more. The roots of the Magnolia tree were lifting and tearing the cement of the sidewalk. The Magnolia tree is still there, even though the crack in the concrete has been smoothed over with some fresh concrete.

City refused to fix sidewalk


Tapella is furious at the City of Gilroy because they had not fixed the sidewalk in front of his store, even though he had been asking the city to remove the Magnolia tree for 17 years. He said the City of Gilroy told him that they did not have the money to fix the sidewalk, and the sidewalk problems were not resulting from the Magnolia tree.

At one point, Tapella offered to cut the tree down, but the city threatened to fine him if he did. The city told him that it was their tree. They said they had planted it, and he could not touch it.

Tapella was then served with personal injury lawsuit papers one day in October, 2010. He did not believe that he had any responsibility for the accident due to the fact that he had been trying to get the city to remove the tree for 17 years.

California state law


However, according to California State law, property owners do have the responsibility of maintaining the sidewalk that is in front of their building or home. In August, 2007, in an attempt to shift legal liability from the city to the homeowner in the event that a person tripped in front of a residence, the city council passed a sidewalk ordinance. However, six months later the ordinance was overturned due to the fact that three new council members were not in favor of the ordinance.

One of the city councilmen, Perry Woodward said, “If a homeowner went out to his sidewalk with a jackhammer, then we’d expect him to be liable. Woodward went on to add that the city had created the problem by planting trees in residential park strips in the 1970s, when the city decided to become a recognized “Tree City USA”.


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