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San Gabriel Valley Digest

Alhambra : $810,000 Award in Crash

February 16, 1989

A Pasadena Superior Court jury has awarded a Cal State University employee $810,000 in a lawsuit stemming from the placement of a stop sign on Hellman Avenue.

The jury last week awarded Whittier resident Lorenzo Pedrosa the judgment after one day of deliberations. Pedrosa had sued the city and the driver who hit the car Pedrosa was driving.

Pedrosa was hit from behind in 1983 while stopped at a stop sign on the east end of the Hellman Avenue bridge over the Long Beach Freeway. Shortly before the accident, the city had installed the stop sign to slow down traffic entering the city from the Cal State campus on the west side of the bridge, city officials said.

An attorney for Canadian Indemnity, the city's insurance company, said the company will appeal the verdict.

Pedrosa suffered back injuries and was operated on twice. He has been unable to work since the accident, his lawyers said.

Chong Hun Choi, a co-defendant in the case and driver of the car that hit Pedrosa's Jeep, was found to be 95% negligent and the city to be 5% negligent, said Robert Hamrick, attorney for the insurance company.

During the six-day trial, Michael Piuze, Pedrosa's attorney, presented a memorandum in which J. Van Hoven, a traffic engineering technician for Alhambra, advised the city not to install the stop sign at the bridge.

"It would be difficult to consider this location as anything but unexpected (for motorists), therefore it could create problems that don't now exist," Van Hoven wrote.

"This is a case where the city would not even listen to its own employees," Piuze said.

S. Paul Bruguera, a deputy city attorney, said the stop sign did not affect the accident. Choi should have paid attention to the road, Bruguera said.

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