Press Release

San Diego, CA – In a case that is a long-time-coming, the City of San Diego agreed to pay $4.8 million for two men —one who suffered a severe spinal injury and another who died— on the City’s dangerous property outside Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns.

More than seven years ago, Jaime Leonen and Joseph “Jorge” Lopez were crossing Health Center Drive with their loved ones. They thought it was a safe street. What they did not know was that they were about to be the 14th victims of a dangerous condition the City had known about for more than a decade. 

Jaime and Jorge were parked along the west side of Health Center Drive, leaving their car to visit a family member who had just given birth. What neither of these men, nor the two women with them knew, was that there were 13 prior midblock pedestrian versus auto collisions along this stretch of road. The City acknowledged these prior collision but had done nothing about them. At one point, a San Diego police officer took it upon himself to notify the City of the dangers after a nurse was struck by a physician less than a year before Jamie and Jorge’s collision.. Nevertheless, the City of San Diego did nothing to solve this problem.

Attorneys Brett Schreiber and Domenic Martini argued at a trial that the very geometry of the roadway created a trap for unwitting pedestrians.  A dip along northbound Health Center Drive causes approaching vehicles to disappear from a pedestrian’s view. As Jaime and Jorge crossed the street, they saw no approaching traffic. Jorge testified that he’d looked both ways, believing he was in the clear to proceed, and Jaime was roughly a step behind him. The two were struck by an approaching car while Jorge’s wife and daughter looked on.

“Jamie lost his life, Jorge suffered a sever spine injury, and their loved ones witnessed this entire tragedy,” said lead attorney Brett Schreiber of Singleton Schreiber. “Jorge underwent multiple surgeries, including a spinal fusion surgery, and incurred more than $1 million in medical expenses. Jamie suffered a far worse fate, and all of this could have been avoided if the City of San Diego had only done its job.”

Unfortunately, Jorge and Jaime could not see the car that ultimately struck them.

“We are happy the families can now start to put their lives back together, but this case was also about preventing the next tragedy.  Hopefully, the City of San Diego takes a serious look at dangerous intersections and roadways and makes  necessary changes to keep its citizens safe. ,” added attorney Domenic Martini.

The case is Joseph Lopez, Dianna Lopez, Danielle Lopez and James Leonen v. City of San Diego, San Diego Superior Court, Case No. 37-2016-00027281-CU-PA-CTL.

About Singleton Schreiber

With over 200 employees and offices throughout the western United States, Singleton Schreiber has represented more than 12,000 victims of utility fires and has recovered approximately $2 billion in settlements and verdicts for its clients. The firm currently represents thousands of victims of the numerous fires in California, New Mexico, and Oregon. The firm’s dedication to obtaining justice for those impacted by toxic conditions and environmental hazards sets it apart from the competition. The firm is also a premier personal injury firm, obtaining top results for clients, including more than $100 million in verdicts in 2022.

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