The City will pay a $45,000 settlement to a 13-year-old girl who lost part of her thumb when a portable goal suddenly snapped shut during a soccer camp at Memorial Park in 2014.
The Autobahn Soccer Academy camper was breaking down the equipment, which was not City-owned property, on July 9 when the incident happened, resulting in the loss of a portion of her finger. The civil complaint alleged the City failed to provide adequate safeguards by checking the equipment on a regular basis and by failing to properly supervise the children participating in the camp.
“Defendants had a duty to maintain, oversee and supervise said Premises, including all third party dangerous activities in order to keep them in a safe manner, and free from hazards and dangers,” reads the civil complaint. The girl’s attorneys argued injuries to her hand and finger resulted in a significant and permanent disability.
The City Attorney’s Office argued the City was not at fault because the accident happened at a private soccer camp with private equipment. However, the girl’s attorneys at Akiva Niamehr LLP argued that the City had agency because it promoted the camp and owns Memorial Park.
“We had filed a motion which would seek from the court a decision regarding our defense,” said Santa Monica’s Chief Deputy City Attorney for the civil liability division Lance Gams. “Hopefully (it would have been) in our favor but you never know and a lot of times courts will look at a situation like this and leave it to a jury.”
Lawyers at Akiva Niamehr and the City Attorney’s Office were still arguing over whether Santa Monica had any responsibility in the case when they made the strategic decision to settle. While they aimed to have the case dismissed, Gams said the costs to the City could have been much higher if they had gone to trial.
“A case like this, as I’m sure you can imagine, has a lot of sympathy toward a teenage girl who has an injury of this type, so the amount we were able to settle the case for was a small amount, relatively speaking, compared to what a jury could award her,” Gams said over the phone with the Daily Press.
Autobahn Soccer Academy will also pay the girl $5,000 as part of the settlement.
The girl’s lawyers did not respond to the Daily Press’ request for comment on the settlement.