Hayes+Associates testimony ten years ago in an LA fall injury case helped produce a $6.7 million settlement, established the presence of a serious fall hazard in The Hollywood Hills, and contributed to the installation of graphic warning signs now visible in Google Street View at the site of the fall.
In 2006, Michael Lattanzi, 46, a musician and producer from Nashville, TN, paused to rest during a bike ride near the intersection of Durand and Heather Drives in Los Angeles, within sight of the Hollywood sign.
Seated on his bike, Lattanzi placed his left foot on a wide roadside curb. When his foot slipped on the slick curb surface, Lattanzi fell backward down an 11.5-foot cliff, onto a flat grassy hilltop below, carrying his bicycle with him.
Lattanzi’s head struck the hill surface first, followed by his torso and legs. When his head hit, Lattanzi heard a loud crunch and lost all feeling in his legs.
As a result of the fall, Lattanzi suffered catastrophic lumbar spine injuries and paraplegia.
In 2008, Lattanzi brought suit against the City of Los Angeles for the hidden, dangerous conditions at the location of his fall. He was represented by Bruce Broillet and Scott Carr of Greene, Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, Los Angeles, (gbw.law).
The firm retained Hayes+Associates to analyze the incident and determine if the fall was the direct consequence of a defective and unreasonably dangerous condition at the scene. An H+A team, led by then Associate Jeremy Bauer, PhD, now of Bauer Forensics (https://www.bauerforensics.com), appraised measurements of the hill, the slickness of the curb, the biomechanics of the falling human form, and the injury thresholds for Mr. Lattanzi’s spinal cord injury. They determined that Lattanzi’s life-changing injuries were the direct result of the slippery curb surface and the precipitous cliff drop beyond it. H+A founder, Wilson C. “Toby” Hayes, PhD, testified to this effect at trial.
Subsequently, the case settled before going to the jury. The City of Los Angeles paid Lattanzi $6.7 million over a period of three years.
As a result of the fall and litigation, the city installed several graphic fall warning signs at the site to prevent future falls.
Hayes+Associates, Inc. (http://www.hayesassoc.com) is an expert witness and consulting firm, based in Corvallis, OR. The company brings more than 75 years of collective experience in academic research, university teaching and forensic testimony to practice areas that include vehicle collisions, premises safety, slips and falls, products liability, worker safety, sports and recreation, patent litigation and criminal matters.