Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Town of Oro Valley Faces Three Lawsuits In St. Patrick's Day Tragedy (Part 1)

This is serious business. $89.4 million in damages sought
The Town of Oro Valley has been served with three lawsuits. These relate to the tragic traffic accident that occurred at the intersection of Naranja Park and Naranja Drive on St. Patrick’s Day of this year. It was horrific. 

Olivia Villabos and her sister Avry were struck by a vehicle driven by Sabrina Garcia. The vehicle had exited Naranja Park at about 1pm and was headed eastbound. Olivia and Avry were struck as they walked with their back against traffic trying to get to their street. They were as far over on the road as you could possibly get and well off of the driving area. You can read LOVE’s reports on this.

Though no one in the town was driving the vehicle that struck Olivia and her half sister, the town is being sued on a different basis. It is being sued on the basis that plaintiffs believe that the town should have known that an accident like this was simply “waiting to happen.“

We based this conclusion on our reading on the filings of the three lawsuits and the documents that were submitted with those filings. Documents filed with the suit claim that prior to the accident town staff was aware of the danger to pedestrians in the area of the Naranja Park entrance. The Town did nothing about this. 

Claim: Town negligent in its duty to provide safe passage for pedestrians as required by Arizona Law.

“Olivia, Avry and Emily, and the two dogs and strollers were traveling eastbound on Naranja Drive. Because there was no other available space for these minors to walk, they were on the only side of the road where they could walk. This design by Oro Valley and its agents/engineers is contrary Arizona law. Arizona law requires that pedestrians walk against traffic. It is not possible in the street design. The Town of Oro Valley did not take the proper steps to comply with its duty to keep its roadways reasonably safe for pedestrians. Had the Town of Oro Valley done so, the tragic event of March 17, 2023 would never have happened”. (Source: Adrian Claim Page 3).

The claim references Arizona statute 28-796: That pedestrians must walk lonely facing traffic if no sidewalks are provided.

Claim: Town ignored complaints of the unsafe condition of the roadway for pedestrians prior to the accident
“The lack of a shoulder was an intentional construction mistake at Musette Drive and West Naranja Drive.” the shoulder on the north side of the road disappears as the right turn lane is adjacent to the guard rail. This design defect does not allow for space for a sidewalk or even a shoulder for pedestrian use. This may seem trivial, but the mistake is fatal, because pedestrians are thereby forced to walk in the direction of traffic on the south side of the road. pedestrians can only walk on the south side of the W. Narada Dr. in this highly traffic area of the town.” (Source: Adrian Claim Page 4)

Claim: Many design defects making this a dangerous pedestrian roadway
The suit points to other defects in the design, such as a lack of crosswalks, and the lack of an ability to take safe passage when you’re walking on the south bottom of the road because of the sharp drop off into a wash. It also knows that now the town seems to recognize these defects by planning the multiuse path along Naranja Drive.

Claim: Town never acted to improve pedestrian safety as Naranja Park grew
The notice of claim recognizes the significant building that has taken place at Naranja Park. ‘However, as Narada Park grew, simple, safety measures were not put in place for Pedestrians. A traffic control crosswalk was not installed at the entry of the park. The town did not even use marked crosswalk at the entrance of this park. Traffic signals, or even yield signs change the behavior of motorists that travel in and out of the park... a crosswalk would have been a cheap fix to alert drivers that pedestrians travel through this area frequently, and that they should be given the right of way.” (Source: Adrian Claim Page 9)
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Follow for more tomorrow when we report of the inherent danger for pedestrians in the area.