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Westside Digest

Malibu : Caltrans Heard in Slide Suits

November 06, 1986

The California Department of Transportation is presenting its side in 12 lawsuits that accuse Caltrans of contributing to the 1983 landslide at Big Rock Mesa which cracked walls and split floors at more than 200 homes.

The first six weeks of the trial in Los Angeles Superior Court were taken up by testimony for the plaintiffs, homeowners whose cases were ordered to trial because they are more than 70 years old, said their attorney, Kenneth Chiate. More than 200 suits have been filed by homeowners against Caltrans, the county and other agencies. The state is expected to take another three weeks.

Last year, a judge ruled that the county should pay $2 million to August and Margaret Hansch, whose home was destroyed in the slide. Caltrans was not held responsible in the Hansch case.

The older plaintiffs' cases had been stalled while the Hansch case makes its way through the appeals process. After receiving priority right to a trial because of their age, the 12 families agreed to proceed only against Caltrans until the appeal of the Hansch case is complete.

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