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Greene, Broillet Files 10 Government Claims for Damages against City of Santa Monica and Bayside District Corporation Arising out of Santa Monica Farmers' Market Tragedy.

News Editors/Business Editors/Legal Writers

SANTA MONICA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 14, 2004

Friday, Jan. 16, 2004, Is Last Date to File

Personal Injury and Property Damage Claims against

Allegedly Responsible Government Entities

Ten Government Claims for Damages were filed today against the City of Santa Monica and Bayside District Corporation by injured individuals or the estates of those killed in the Santa Monica Farmers' Market tragedy.

This is a mandatory first step, required by California law, before the Claimants can file civil law suits for personal injury or wrongful death against the Respondents in Superior Court. The deadline for filing claims against any governmental agency arising out of the July 16, 2003, tragedy is Jan. 16, 2004. Claimants are represented by Brian J. Panish, Timothy J. Wheeler and Geoffrey S. Wells, partners with the Santa Monica, Calif., law firm of Greene, Broillet, Panish, & Wheeler, LLP.

The Claimants allege that the City of Santa Monica and Bayside District Corporation were negligent and reckless in conducting and regulating the weekly Wednesday Santa Monica Farmers' Market. They also allege that Respondents' acts or failures to act created the dangerous conditions that enabled George Russell Weller to drive his car unimpeded through the heart of the market, killing ten people and injuring at least 63 others on the afternoon of July 16, 2003.

"Every Wednesday, the public streets and area surrounding Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade are transformed into an open-air farmers' market, attracting locals and visitors from around the world," explained Brian J. Panish. "The public's safety should be paramount, but the City of Santa Monica and the Bayside District Corporation, which have oversight for the Santa Monica Farmers' Market, failed to take steps to prevent cars from driving east or westbound on Arizona Avenue, which is the main pedestrian thoroughfare on market day. Yet, ironically, they do have barriers in place designed to block north and southbound traffic on Third Street. Such conduct is egregious and is why the Respondents should bear the entire responsibility for this accident."

"The City and Bayside were also negligent," explained Geoffrey S. Wells, "because they failed to provide adequate warning signs that would have put the drivers of motor vehicles on notice that they were approaching a closed-off area and were required to take a detour around the city streets on Farmers' Market day."

Added Geoffrey Wells: "Our clients are victims of this tragedy, and so is George Weller because the City of Santa Monica and Bayside District Corporation failed in their duty to the public to regulate or barricade traffic on market day. We hope that the filing of these claims will be the first step in getting cities across the country to take appropriate safety measures before they close off their public streets and transform them into public marketplaces. Lives are in the balance."

Editor's Note: Greene, Broillet represents Sandra Ellen Bacal, Sara Dobbins, Benny Gong, Ilona Lettrich, Dina Richter, Holley Hankinson, and Olivia Wun for their personal injury claims arising out of the July 16, 2003 Santa Monica Farmers' Market tragedy. The firm also represents Frank McCarthy and Ana Maria McCarthy, the brother and sister of Kevin McCarthy (deceased); Bertha Lattier, the mother of Leroy Lattier (deceased); and Benny and Maggie Gong, parents of Diana Gong McCarthy (deceased).

Editor's Note: It is mandatory to first file a Government Claim for Damages, as required by California law before a civil suit can be filed against a governmental entity. Claimants have six months from the date of the incident to file such a claim or they may be barred from filing it. After the governmental entity denies a claim, the claimant then has six months from that date to file a civil suit in Superior Court against the governmental entity. On the other hand, there is a two-year statute of limitations from the date of injury for the filing a personal injury or wrongful death civil suit against an individual or non-governmental agency.

Claimants are represented by Greene, Broillet, Panish & Wheeler, LLP, Santa Monica, CA; Tel: 310-576-1200. A sample of the Government Claim for Damages can be found at www.gbpwlaw.com.

Respondent City of Santa Monica is represented by Marsha Jones Moutrie, Santa Monica City Attorney; Tel: 310-458-8836.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Jan 14, 2004
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