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Three Car Collision Results in Wrongful Death of a Young Woman

James R. Downes, and Myong Sun Kim, Individually and as Successors in Interest of Kimberly Anne Downes, decedent,

Plaintiffs

V.

State of California: California Department of Transportation

(CalTrans); Holly Ann Lee; Gaylene Lee; Victoria Vasquez; Miguel Alvarez, and Does 1-100,

Defendants

Sup. Ct. L.A. Co. East District (Pomona, CA)

Case No.: KC056861

COMPLAINT FOR WRONGFUL DEATH DAMAGES ARISING FROM DANGEROUS CONDITION OF PUBLIC PROPERTY (Government Code sec. 835); WRONGFUL DEATH DAMAGES FOR NEGLIGENT OWNERSHIP AND OPERATION OF A MOTOR VEHICLE

DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

COME NOW, Plaintiffs James R. Downes, and Myong Sun Kim, Individually and as Successors in Interest of Kimberly Anne Downes, decedent, as and for their causes of action against State of California: California Department of Transportation (CalTrans); Holly Ann Lee; Gaylene Lee; Victoria Vasquez; Miguel Alvarez, and Does 1-100 inclusive, allege as follows:

ALLEGATIONS COMMON TO ALL CAUSES OF ACTION

1.) At all relevant times herein mentioned, Plaintiff JAMES R. DOWNES was and is the father of KIMBERLY ANNE DOWNES, deceased, and is a lawful heir of the estate of said KIMBERLY ANNE DOWNES.

2.) At all relevant times MYONG SUN KIM was and is the mother of KIMBERLY ANNE DOWNES, deceased, and is a lawful heir of the estate of said KIMBERLY ANNE DOWNES.

3.) Decedent KIMBERLY ANNE DOWNES was 22 years old at the time of her death, and died intestate, with JAMES R. DOWNES and MYONG SUN KIM surviving her as the only heirs of said decedent, and they therefore are entitled to bring this action pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure sec. 377.60 (b).

4.) At all relevant times, upon information and belief, SR-60, also known as the Pomona Freeway, was and is a roadway owned, operated, maintained and controlled by defendants State of California and California Department of Transportation, hereinafter "CalTrans".

5.) On or about February 13, 2009, plaintiffs' decedent KIMBERLY ANNE DOWNES, hereinafter "DOWNES", was lawfully operating her 2002 Hyundai Santa Fe within the applicable speed limit, eastbound on SR-60 in the city of Diamond Bar at approximately 3:28 a.m. when for unknown reasons, her vehicle was caused to swerve to the left, striking the center concrete median wall and overturning onto the driver's side in the diamond lane, also known as the carpool lane approximately 1564 feet east of the Grand Ave. overpass.

6.) Upon information and belief, within a short time of the aforesaid event, defendant HOLLY ANN LEE , hereinafter "LEE", operating a 2007 Toyota Yaris owned by defendant GAYLENE LEE and traveling eastbound in the diamond lane of SR-60 struck the overturned vehicle of plaintiffs' decedent, who then and there was outside of her SUV in close proximity to the collision of the two vehicles.

7.) Upon information and belief, immediately following this collision, defendant VICTORIANA VAZQUEZ hereafter, "VAZQUEZ", driving a 2003 Jeep Liberty owned by defendant MIGUEL ALVAREZ, struck the person of plaintiffs' decedent DOWNES while VAZQUEZ was traveling in the eastbound lanes of SR-60, causing massive and fatal injuries to DOWNES, resulting in her death.

8.) On or about June 25, 2009 a written Notice of Claim was duly served upon the defendant State of California Claims Board and a formal Rejection of said claim occurred on August 13, 2009.

9.) As this incident occurred within the city of Diamond Bar in the county of Los Angeles, Pomona judicial district, venue is properly brought in this Court pursuant to Government Code sec. 955.2.

10.) As a result of the combined negligent acts and omissions of all defendants and the dangerous condition of public property of defendants State of California and CalTrans as described herein below, plaintiffs' decedent died from critical and fatal injuries on February 13, 2009 and as a legal result thereof, JAMES R. DOWNES and MYONG SUN KIM have each suffered economic and non-economic damages for the wrongful death of their daughter, in an amount according to proof.

FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION

(Dangerous Condition of Public Property- Against Defendants

State of California, CalTrans and Does 1-50, Inclusive)

11.) Plaintiffs refer to each of the allegations in paragraphs 1-10, above, which are incorporated by reference herein.

12.) At all relevant times, upon information and belief, SR-60, also known as the Pomona Freeway, was and is a public roadway built, constructed, owned, repaired, serviced and maintained by the defendants State of California (hereafter "STATE") and CalTrans for the use and convenience of the motoring public.

13.) Upon information and belief, at a point in time prior to February 13, 2009, defendants STATE and CalTrans undertook certain traffic surveys and scene analysis studies in the immediate vicinity of the accident site, and a decision was made to erect approximately four (4) double armed high intensity light poles in the center median of SR-60 immediately east and west of the crash site, just east of the Grand Ave. Overpass.

14.) Upon information and belief, said decision was based, in whole, or in part, was based upon certain line of sight and vision issues pertaining to the diamond (HOV) lane of SR-57 northbound as it merged into the HOV diamond lane of SR-60 eastbound and crossed under the Grand Ave. Overpass.

15.) During hours of darkness, as HOV lane traffic transitioned from the SR-57 to SR-60 lanes, the prior lack of lighting resulted in a dangerous condition of darkness, compounded by the overpass at Grand Ave.

16.) At all relevant times, it was the duty and legal obligation of defendants STATE, CalTrans and Does 1-50, as agents servants and employees of each, individually and jointly, to ensure and make certain that the SR-60 double armed light poles were in good operating condition and that the lights were in fact all activated and turned on during the hours of darkness each night and early morning.

17.) The defendants STATE and CalTrans, and Does 1-50, inclusive, created, and maintained at the time of this accident a dangerous condition of public property, in the following respects:

a.) Failing to have any of the double armed center median lights east of the Grand Ave overpass operating and turned on at the time of this incident when it was approximately 3:28 a.m. and dark outside;

b.) In causing, allowing and permitting all of the aforesaid lights to be in an inoperable condition such that there was no artificial illumination of the HOV lane in this location either that night or for a long period prior thereto;

c.) In failing and neglecting to perform regular and routine inspections of the lighting on SR-60 just east of the Grand Ave overpass during hours of darkness, so as to ensure and be certain that said lights over the center median area were on, and working, and properly illuminating the roadway;

d.) In failing and neglecting to give adequate warnings of any kind to the motoring public as to the outage, or non-working status of the lights at the accident locale.

18.) As a direct and proximate result of the dangerous condition of excessive darkness created by the absence of the overhead lights working at the time of this incident, the plaintiffs' decedent, and defendants LEE and VASQUEZ were unable to timely or clearly observe and notice the series of crash events on February 13, 2009 in sufficient time to take appropriate and proper evasive actions to avoid causing the fatal injuries to plaintiffs' decedent DOWNES.

19.) Upon information and belief, at all relevant times, the defendants STATE, Caltrans and Does 1-50, inclusive had actual and/or constructive notice for a long period of time prior to February 13, 2009 that said lights were not properly on and working in t he crash site vicinity, and despite said notice, these defendants failed to repair or replace said lights and fixtures, and further failed to take reasonable steps to warn the motoring public of the resulting dangerous condition of public property.

20.) As a direct and legal cause of said dangerous condition of public property, for which these defendants are liable, Plaintiffs have been permanently deprived of the love, companionship, affection, solace, future guidance and future services and support of the decedent DOWNES, all to their damages in a sum that exceeds the jurisdiction of all lower courts.

21) Accordingly, Plaintiffs are entitled to wrongful death damages from these defendants.

SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION AGAINST LEE AND GAYLENE LEE, and DOES 51-75

22.) Plaintiffs refer to each of the allegations in paragraphs 1-21, above, which are incorporated by reference herein.

23.) At all relevant times defendant GAYLENE LEE and DOES 51-75, was and is the registered owner of a 2007 Toyota Yaris bearing plate number 6AYM975.

24.) Upon information and belief, defendant GAYLENE LEE gave actual and/or permissive use of the aforesaid vehicle to defendant LEE (HOLLY ANN LEE) and said vehicle was being operated on February 13, 2009 with the full permission and consent of GAYLENE LEE.

25.) On or about February 13, 2009 defendant LEE was negligent and careless in operating the Toyota Yaris, and as a result thereof she caused and contributed to the fatal injuries and death of plaintiffs' decedent DOWNES.

26.) The negligence and carelessness of defendant LEE, for which defendant GAYLENE LEE is statutorily and vicariously liable, consisted of, but is not limited to the following:

a.) Consuming Margarita alcoholic beverages after her work shift at Disneyland at The Lost Bar in the hours immediately preceding this accident, so as to operate the Toyota Yaris in an impaired condition with slower reflexes;

b.) Driving at an excessive and unsafe speed in the HOV lanes of SR-57 and SR-60 so as to not have proper and adequate control of the Toyota Yaris;

c.) In failing and neglecting to maintain a proper state of vigilance and attention to roadway and traffic conditions so as to timely observe, and avoid forcibly striking the overturned vehicle and person of KIMBERLY DOWNES;

d.) In negligently crashing into the DOWNES vehicle in the HOV lane of SR-60 so as to cause violent contact with the DOWNES vehicle and the person of KIMBERLY DOWNES;

e.) And in otherwise failing and neglecting to drive her vehicle in a safe and prudent manner as required by law;

27.) As a proximate and direct result of the negligence and carelessness of defendant LEE, for which defendant GAYLENE LEE and DOES 51-75 are vicariously and statutorily liable, Plaintiffs have been permanently deprived of the love, companionship, affection, solace, future guidance and future services and support of the decedent DOWNES, all to their damages in a sum that exceeds the jurisdiction of all lower courts.

28.) Accordingly, Plaintiffs are entitled to wrongful death damages from these defendants.

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