Firm files wrongful death lawsuit against city of Santa Clarita

Excerpts from this article appear in The Santa Clarita Valley Signal

Carpenter Zuckerman & Rowley filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of Teresa Savaikie against the city of Santa Clarita, Los Angeles County, Southern California Edison, the state and the man charged with vehicular manslaughter in the death of her 14-year-old son Wyatt who was killed on July 16 while crossing the street in a marked crosswalk near Bouquet Canyon and Seco Canyon roads in Saugus. The roadway, according to the lawsuit filed on April 8, was “dangerous and defectively planned, designed, drafted, engineered and constructed.”

“We’re hoping this litigation will make the streets safer for everyone in Santa Clarita,” said John Carpenter, lead attorney in the case. “The intersection is dangerous and didn’t give Wyatt a chance to see the car that hit him.”

Alleged dangerous conditions claimed by the suit include: deficient or insufficient line of sight; insufficient corner-site distance; insufficient stopping distance; lack of a traffic signal; lack of a stop sign; improper speed limits; and lack of illumination.  The suit claims the named defendants “and their agents, representatives and employees breached their respective and collective duties of care and allowed a dangerous condition to exist.”

The suit specifically names Southern California Edison, claiming the utility “owed a duty of reasonable care to place and manage their utility poles and other property in a safe and reasonable manner and so as not to obstruct motorists’ view of traffic signals, crosswalks and pedestrians.”

And, while the lawsuit names 74-year-old Ralph August Steger as the motorist who killed Savaikie’s son, the criminal case against Steger — who is charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter — is ongoing and has not been resolved.

Carpenter said the county and state were included in the suit because it’s often unknown if they share some level of responsibility for a road’s condition.

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