The City of San Diego doesn't want mayor Kevin Faulconer to testify in a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by the parents of a seven-month-old girl who was struck by a car and died while crossing Catalina Boulevard in Point Loma with her parents in March 2015.
On December 29, attorneys for the city filed a motion for a protective order that would prevent Faulconer and a city attorney investigator from taking the stand.
John Aavang, his wife, and their seven-month-old daughter Juniper, in San Diego for vacation, were crossing Catalina Boulevard in a crosswalk when David Hoban's 2004 Chevy Suburban struck them, killing Juniper and severely injuring her father.
Hoban stated that a large untrimmed tree blocked his view of the crosswalk and he was unable to see the family in time.
The family later sued the city, Hoban, as well as the homeowners' association adjacent to the crosswalk for failing to maintain the surrounding foliage.
The crosswalk had been in the city's crosshairs for years. As reported by the Reader in April 2015, public records show that residents had complained to then-councilmember Kevin Faulconer, who represented Point Loma on the city council, about the dangerous intersection as early as 2010.
In a message to Faulconer's officer, Point Loma resident Jon Connor notified the councilmember of the dangerous intersection, which, according to a memo later sent to traffic engineers, posed a "complete blind spot for families with kids trying to cross."
Connor likened Catalina Boulevard to a "freeway during rush hour."
"People are going entirely too fast since there are no lights or speed controls in this corridor," reads the "route slip" sent from Faulconer's office in 2010 as a result of Connor's letter. "[Connor] says it's dangerous for anyone since cars are coming down without stopping at the crosswalk and they cannot see [pedestrians] on the sidewalk."
The complaint, however, was set aside. Referring to a 2006 traffic study, traffic engineers did not consider high speed limits to be an issue at that intersection.
Shortly after the family filed the wrongful death lawsuit, the city submitted a cross-complaint against a nearby homeowners' association for not maintaining the trees on the property surrounding the intersection. In court documents, attorneys for the city argue that Aavang was negligent and careless when crossing Catalina Boulevard and the city should not be held liable.
The city is now asking that a judge deny the request to have Faulconer and city attorney investigator Mike Hurley give testimony in the case.
Reads the city's motion, "Deputy city attorney Richardson pointed out that Mayor Faulconer's anticipated testimony is not relevant to the subject matter of this action because he was not involved in the handling of the citizen complaint, and because the deposition notice for the Mayor is not proper."
Furthermore, adds the city, then-councilmember Faulconer was not made aware of potential safety issues at the intersection — this, despite the 2010 written complaint from Connor."[Aavang's] counsel has been advised, and is aware through discovery conducted to date, that the Mayor has no personal knowledge relevant to this action."
A civil jury trial is expected to take place in 2017.