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Police Department employee sues city over bike accident

She alleges the city didn't properly maintain the road on Eagle Rock Way and, as a result, she struck a 'root deformity,' flew off her bike and suffered fractures, abrasions, bruises.

September 01, 2011|By Joanna Clay, joanna.clay@latimes.com

A Laguna Beach Police Department employee has sued the city, claiming a poorly maintained road is the reason she crashed her electric bicycle and suffered bodily injuries.

In an April 4 civil complaint filed in Orange County Superior Court, Robin Ellen Levinson, a community services officer, says she was riding on Eagle Rock Way in South Laguna at 11:45 a.m. Feb. 15, 2010, when she struck a deformity in the road, which caused her to lose control and be ejected from her bike.

The city of Laguna Beach filed a denial with the court July 8.

Levinson, who was not working at the time, suffered a broken hip, shoulder fracture, abrasions and bruises, according to a report by the California Highway Patrol.

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Levinson's lawsuit asserts "the city failed to properly maintain the roadway on Eagle Rock Way and clear the root deformity." It goes on to say that the city was negligent in its hiring, retention, training and supervision of employees who are in charge of maintaining streets.

In denying the claim, the city said Levinson's "failure to exercise ordinary care did directly and proximately cause and contribute to the occurrence of this incident, or injury or damage, if any was sustained."

Levinson claims the city is at fault for all damages incurred, which include general damages, pain and suffering, medical expenses, future medical expenses, lost earnings, loss of earning capacity, future loss of earnings, vocational rehabilitation, and other special and compensatory damages deemed just and proper by the court.

In a claim filed against the city on July 13, 2010, Levinson estimated her loss at $1.5 million.

Levinson is back at work. According to the city website, employees in her position earn $43,980 to $65,400 annually.

In the CHP report, Officer David McGill reported that he was asked to investigate the accident the following day and that the original incident was dispatched as a medical aid call, not a traffic collision. No police officers were originally sent to the scene.

McGill noted there is no designated bike lane on Eagle Rock Way and the speed limit is 25 mph. Levinson told McGill she was traveling at a "slow but unknown speed" at the time of the collision.

He asked Levinson if she had driven on the road before and, if so, if she had noticed the abnormality. She responded that she had driven it and had not seen any problems with the road.

According to the report, Levinson told McGill that a passerby had helped her and called 911. Levinson did not have contact information for the passerby.

Levinson told the Coastline Pilot that she did not wish to comment on the case. Her attorney, as well as the city's attorney handling the case, could not be reached for comment.

A jury trial is scheduled at the Orange County Superior Court on April 23, 2012.

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