Gonzales v. City of Atwater

Design immunity shielded city from liability for a pedestrian that a left-turning driver killed in a crosswalk since an authorized city official designed the intersection, the design was reasonable when adopted and the design was causally related to the accident.   Driver turned left, striking and killing plaintiff’s decedent who was walking in the crosswalk across the street into which driver turned.  Plaintiff sued the city claiming that the accident was caused by an unsafe condition of the intersection and its stop lights.  Held, judgment notwithstanding the verdict should have been entered in the city’s favor based on design immunity under Gov. Code § 830.6.  Plaintiff conceded there was a causal relationship between the design of the intersection and the accident.  Plaintiff also conceded that the design was reasonable when adopted.  That left only the issue of whether there had been a discretionary approval of the design by the defendant entity.  This decision holds that the evidence on that point was undisputed and sufficient to compel a finding in the city’s favor.  The city’s engineer had the requisite discretionary authority and he had approved the plans for the intersection including its traffic lights.

California Court of Appeal, Fifth District (Gomes, J.); December 15, 2016 (modified January 10, 2017); 6 Cal. App. 5th 929


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