A judge rules that the city of Fresno remains a defendant in a lawsuit regarding the death of a young boy who was hit by a drunk driver, says Frenkel & Frenkel.

A judge has ruled that the city of Fresno will remain a defendant in a lawsuit after a child was killed by a drunk driver in a crosswalk on one of the city streets. The city had argued that the child, Donovan Maldonado, who was 7 when he died, was actually killed on the Sugar Pine Trail. Because the trail is part of the Woodland Park, lawyers argued that the city was immune from liability.

Child’s Death

Donovan and his family were in the crosswalk on July 25, 2012, when a vehicle driven by Loren LeBeau struck and killed the child. In August 2013, LeBeau pleaded no contest to gross vehicular manslaughter, hit-and-run causing death and injuries, and driving under the influence. He is serving a 12-year prison sentence.

Dangerous Crosswalk

According to court documents, the city was aware that the crosswalk where Donovan died was dangerous due to its angle, length and location near two high-traffic intersections controlled by traffic lights. Lawyers for Donovan’s family provided documents that the city had requested grant money from the United States Department of Transportation in October 2009 to build an underpass beneath Shepherd Avenue, as they were aware of the dangerous conditions in the intersection.

Judge’s Decision

Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Hamilton said that, although the city had provided many documents, maps and photographs that they said proved the crosswalk was part of Sugar Pine Trail, there was not sufficient evidence to prove that where the accident occurred was part of the park. He said that the documentation showed only that the city wanted to build an underpass in the area, not that Sugar Pine Trail was a park road and not a city street.

When a city is negligent or fails to provide adequate safety features for citizens, and that is suspected as the cause or contributing factor in a car accident that causes injury or death, a wrongful death claim may be in order. Contact Dallas-Fort Worth lawyers at Frenkel & Frenkel to schedule a free initial consultation regarding an auto accident where injuries may have been caused or worsened by someone else’s negligence.

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