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L.A. settles accident lawsuit for $7 million

A Los Angeles Triathlon volunteer was left a paraplegic when his motorcycle collided with a car during the 2007 event.

March 09, 2010|By Victoria Kim

The city of Los Angeles paid $7 million to settle a lawsuit brought by a volunteer for the Los Angeles Triathlon, who was left a paraplegic by an accident during the event in 2007, his attorney said Monday.

Steve Albala, who was 60 at the time of the accident, was on his motorcycle helping to officiate the bicycle portion of the triathlon. A traffic officer motioned for a vehicle to enter an intersection into the volunteer's path, causing the accident, Albala's attorney contended in the lawsuit.

Albala, who had been a motorcycle aficionado for more than 40 years and had volunteered for various events with his motorcycle club, was flung about 20 feet by the impact, said his attorney, Douglas Aberle. He suffered a vertebral fracture and was hospitalized for more than two years, having to undergo multiple surgeries, Aberle said.

Albala's wife, Sheri, said the aftermath of the accident was painful for her husband, who had always been active in the community, volunteering at the couple's Chatsworth synagogue and with an organization sending care packages to soldiers deployed in Iraq.

She recalled Albala's excitement over the opportunity to ride along the triathlon course from Venice to downtown Los Angeles without traffic.

A police report at the time had concluded that Albala had been speeding and was responsible for the accident, Aberle said.

City attorney officials did not respond to requests for comment Monday.

"We're both relieved. It's one more chapter we can close and move on to the next chapter," Sheri Albala said of the settlement. She said she and her husband are slowly building the foundations of a new life, ordering a customized wheelchair and a van that can accommodate his needs, she said.

The city also paid $250,000 to a race official who was riding with Albala on his motorcycle and $500,000 to the driver of the car.

victoria.kim@latimes.com

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