Three adult children of a woman who died several months after suffering severe injuries in a 2018 fall in the parking lot of an Inglewood Green Line station can proceed to trial with their entire lawsuit against Metro, a judge ruled Thursday.
Delores Thomas was left paralyzed from the March 17, 2018 fall and died June 8 of that year, according to the Los Angeles Superior Court complaint filed in March 2019 by Andrea, Adrian and Ava Elam.
Judge Rolf M. Treu on Thursday denied Metro’s motion to dismiss the dangerous condition of public property cause of action in the suit, which also alleges wrongful death and negligence.
According to the complaint, Thomas was walking on a sidewalk in the parking lot, located on Crenshaw Boulevard, when the poorly lit walkway suddenly ended and became “an unmarked, unexpected and dangerous ditch.” Pedestrians are forced to cross the dirt area to reach where the sidewalk continues, according to the suit.
Thomas did not see the step down into the dirt area, stumbled and fell forward onto her head about 7:45 p.m., the complaint says.
“Additionally, at the time of the incident, the area was poorly lit making the condition more difficult to perceive,” the judge wrote. “Decedent was required to traverse the unmarked gutter, ditch or drain, which cuts through the sidewalk/walkway. Decedent was unable to observe and/or otherwise perceive the step down, causing her to lose her footing and fall forward.”
Metro asserted a “design immunity” defense, which under the state Government Code provides that a public entity is not liable for injury caused by the plan or design of a construction or improvement to public property where the plan or design was approved in advance of the construction or improvement by the legislative body or the employee with authority to give such consent.
Thomas was paralyzed and subsequently entered a vegetative state, dying three months later, according to the suit.