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Family settles on behalf of daughter

San Dimas agrees to pay $9 million in the case of a teen whose car crashed into a city-built fence.

September 28, 2007|Kurt Streeter | Times Staff Writer

The family of Samantha Palumbo, a teenager whose struggle to overcome a severe brain injury recently was profiled in The Times, will receive $9 million as part of a legal settlement reached this week with the city of San Dimas.

Driving alone through San Dimas on April 8, 2005, Samantha lost control of her car and slammed into a city-built fence made of wooden logs. Parts of the fence pierced Samantha's car and her head, tearing away part of her brain.

A top student and beauty pageant winner before the accident, she has since battled to regain basic abilities. Now 18, she communicates with hand signals, largely uses a wheelchair and relies on 24-hour care provided by her parents.

Sam and Diana Palumbo sued the city on their daughter's behalf. They said the fence was unsafe and caused their daughter's brain injury. As part of the agreement, San Dimas made no admission of liability, city attorney Scott J. Grossberg said.

"We just want to help," Grossberg said. "Everyone wants to help this poor girl."

Samantha's mother said the money, which largely will come from a city insurance fund, probably would go into a trust to help pay for such needs as specialized care, education and housing to accommodate her daughter's disabilities. "Now we know that she will be taken care of," Diana Palumbo said.

She said the family would continue to seek treatment for Samantha, who is improving and underwent surgery this week at UCLA Medical Center to cover a hole in her forehead.

kurt.streeter@latimes.com

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