Amir “Nick” Ekbatani, a former lineman for the UCLA Bruins, won a record judgment on Monday in a lawsuit against Caltrans. Ekbatani, who played the line for UCLA from 2006 to 2009, lost his left leg in a motorcycle accident on the North Coast Pacific Highway in July, 2012. His attorneys had argued that the intersection where the crash occurred was negligently designed. Sources say state officials have still not made any modifications to the intersection.
At trial, Ekbatani’s lawyers contended that Caltrans shared liability with the driver of the vehicle that struck the former player and fitness model. Caltrans had denied any liability, saying that the accident was entirely the fault of the cab driver who hit Ekbatani. They allege that he wrongfully cut the corner, striking Ekbatani, who had the right of way.
Ekbatani’s counsel, however, told the court that the intersection of Diamond Street and the Pacific Coast Highway in Redondo Beach, where the accident occurred, is “skewed” because the angle at which Diamond crosses the PCH is so sharp that additional precautions were necessary. They successfully argued that, had a left turn signal been installed, the accident would not have happened. Ekbatani’s attorneys also showed jurors a video of the intersection, demonstrating that the sharp angle prevents motorists traveling south on the PCH (as the cab driver was) from seeing oncoming traffic until it’s too late to make any adjustments.
While Ekbatani’s lawyers did not dispute the fact that the cab driver cut the corner, they contended that the incorporation of a double yellow line to simulate a median would have forced the cab driver to the middle of the intersection, preventing him from striking Ekbatani.
Ekbatani had also named the cab driver in the initial lawsuit, but settled that claim before trial.
There is no word yet on whether Caltrans will appeal the outcome of the case.
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