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City Settles Suit for $1.05 Million

September 13, 1997|CHRIS CHI

The city of Oxnard has reached a $1.05-million settlement in a wrongful-death case brought by relatives of a community activist killed last year when his van was hit by a speeding fire engine.

Relatives of George Valle brought the lawsuit after he was killed when his van was broadsided by an Oxnard fire engine on May 8, 1996. The case was scheduled to go to trial Sept. 22.

But with that date nearing, the family decided to take the city's settlement offer, said attorney Alan Templeman, who represented Valle's widow, Aileen.

"The settlement provides security for her," Templeman said. "Secondly, there is a lot of stress involved in a trial."

Under terms of the settlement, Templeman said, Aileen Valle and George Valle's mother will receive a total of $640,000. Valle's two adult daughters will split $250,000, and a stepdaughter will receive $160,000.

George Valle, 48, was born in La Colonia and was active in the Oxnard Boys & Girls Club.

He died after an Oxnard city fire engine crashed into his van while he was making a left turn at Oxnard Boulevard and La Colonia Road. The fire engine was responding to an emergency call.

A preliminary police investigation stated that Oxnard Firefighter Timothy Linman, who was driving the truck, contributed to the collision through inattention and by driving at an excessive speed.

But a final report said there was not enough evidence to support that conclusion, and Ventura County prosecutors decided earlier this year not to file criminal charges against the driver.

Oxnard City Atty. Gary Gillig said that the family had sought approximately $10 million in damages before agreeing to settle the case.

"It is a large settlement," Gillig said. "We always recognized there was some liability on the city's part."

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