Daley & Heft Wins Appeal for City of El Cajon in Dangerous Condition Case

March 28, 2013.  The Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, issued its unpublished opinion affirming the trial court’s granting of the City of El Cajon’s summary judgment in a very serious brain injury case.  In 2008, plaintiff James Cox was riding his bicycle at 10:00pm eastbound on El Cajon Boulevard, approaching the westbound I-8 onramp intersection.  The intersection is Caltans owned and controlled, and is a signalized intersection.  A westbound driver had a green light to enter the onramp, and made a left turn in front of Cox on his bicycle.  She said she had a green arrow.  No one knows the color of the light Cox faced.  The bicycle collided with the left-turning car and Cox was very seriously injured, and remains brain-injured today.  Plaintiff alleged the intersection was in a dangerous condition because the signals trained left-turning drivers to anticipate a green light, and this anticipation caused greater than normal vehicle speeds through the intersection.  These higher speeds, in turn, could cause impacts to bicycle riders, like Cox, who had legally gone through a yellow light, but had not yet made it through the intersection.

On behalf of the City, Daley and Heft partner Mitch Dean and associate Chris Busch filed a motion for summary judgment, and argued the motion, which was granted by Judge Strauss.  Dean argued that the City did not control the signals or the intersection, and that, in any event, this was the first bicycle accident, ever, at that intersection.  Dean pointed out that between 2002 and 2008 over 44 million cars took a left turn onto the onramp and there were no prior bicycle-versus-car collisions there.  Therefore, the intersection did not present a dangerous condition as a matter of law.  Plaintiff appealed the granting of this motion.  The appeal was opposed and argued by Daley & Heft partner Lee Roistacher.  After Roistacher’s oral argument, the Court of Appeal ruled that Judge Strauss was right to rule that the high volume of cars with no prior accidents was “at a minimum a significant consideration” when deciding if a condition created a substantial (as opposed to an insignificant) risk of injury when the property was used with due care.  The Court of Appeal affirmed the lower court ruling granting the City’s summary judgment motion in this very serious injury case.  See the Unpublished Opinion Here:  Cox Unpublished Opinion