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Lawsuits & Litigation

City of Los Angeles Hit with Civil Suit Over Unsafe Homeless Camps

— August 4, 2021

Los Angeles is at the center of a lawsuit over its handling its out of control homelessness problem.

The city of Los Angeles was recently hit with a lawsuit by Debra Todd, 64. Todd lives in Valley Village and sued the city after she was hit by a car when she stepped onto a Hollywood street because a homeless camp was taking up the sidewalks. As a result of the collision, she suffered “head, hip, back, arm and leg injuries,” according to the suit.

Downtown Los Angeles. Image via Wikimedia Commons/user:salewskia. (CCA-BY-4.0).

The accident itself happened on October 4, 2020. She was down near the homeless camp to pass out sandwiches, chips, and water to the homeless. She said, “Because of the encampment, you couldn’t walk on the sidewalk. You had to walk down the street…There was no light or stop sign anywhere near Gower where I was hit.”

The lawsuit came days after Mayor Eric Garcetti “signed an agreement law to enable the city council to remove camps that pose a threat to public safety or are within 500 feet of a highway overpass.” However, before the law can be enforced, the city council must first vote on it. What will the ordinance require? For starters, the city will be required to “clear camps that block wheelchair access, as required under the Americans With Disabilities Act — an action that doesn’t require a city council vote.” 

When commenting on the suit and the accident, Todd said she had “been trying to get from one side of Gower to the other when she and another person, a homeless man she was walking with, were hit by the car.” She added that add the time, the sidewalks were filled with tents. After the accident, Todd was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the other victim declined medical treatment. The driver remained at the scene and claimed she had “only been traveling 20 mph.” Due to the slow speed, the vehicle had no visible damage.

As part of the suit, Todd argues the city left the encampment at the scene of the accident “for a considerable amount of time, creating dangerous conditions for pedestrians and motorists.” To make matters worse, “the city has not posted any signs warning motorists that there would be excessive foot traffic on the streets because of the encampments,” the lawsuit stated. In fact, shortly after the suit was filed, the sidewalks were still filled with tents.

Alan Turlington is representing Todd. When commenting on the suit, he said Todd suffered a “mild traumatic brain injury, which could leave her with permanent disabilities and require medical treatment in the future.” Todd is also worried that her injuries might cause her to miss out on work in the future. 

This isn’t the first time the city’s homeless camps have come under fire. A federal civil rights lawsuit was previously filed by downtown residents and business owners who argue the city and county have not done enough to address the homelessness crisis in the region.


L.A. pedestrian sues over collision near sidewalk encampment

Woman sues LA after being struck by car on Hollywood street where tents block sidewalk

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