Attorneys for the City of San Diego hope to prevent mayor Kevin Faulconer from taking the witness stand in the wrongful death lawsuit filed by parents of a 7-month-old girl who was killed as her dad pushed her in a stroller while crossing a Point Loma crosswalk. The motion comes despite the fact that more evidence has come to light that then-councilmember Kevin Faulconer was aware of the dangers at the intersection.
Superior Court judge John Meyer will hear the motion during an April 7 court hearing.
Deputy City Attorney Catherine Richardson has urged the judge to block attempts to force Faulconer to the stand. Richardson says doing so would have no bearing on the case as Faulconer was never personally responsible for handling any citizen complaints nor was he aware of the dangers of the intersection located at Canon Street near the transition ramp from Catalina Boulevard.
As reported on by the Reader, John Aavang was pushing his daughter Juniper in her stroller just after daybreak on March 2, 2015 while his wife, Ginerva, trailed behind. Aavang and his daughter were using the crosswalk when a black SUV driven by David Hoban struck them, throwing John Aavang to the side of the street while dragging the young girl's stroller for 68 feet until coming to a stop. Juniper Aavang died a few hours later. Her father, John Aavang, suffered severe head trauma.
Two weeks after the accident the Reader submitted a public records request to the city asking for any complaints submitted to the city about the dangerous crosswalk. The city responded by turning over a 2010 complaint to then-councilmember Kevin Faulconer, also a resident of Point Loma, from Jon O'Connor. In his complaint O'Connor requested that additional safety improvements be made to address what he said was a “complete blind spot for families with kids trying to cross.”
Six months after the accident, the family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city.
During the two years since filing the lawsuit, numerous additional complaints have surfaced dating as far back as 2008. The complaints,
which attorneys for the family say were discovered through their investigation and not by the city, include two from former city employees — one from San Diego's former personnel director Richard Snapper and the other from then-deputy city attorney Paige Hazard who lived near the intersection. Both complaints were submitted to Faulconer's office.
But that's not all.
In recent weeks, according to court documents, additional evidence that Faulconer knew about the dangers of the crosswalk have come to light. In 2008, a resident sent Faulconer an email concerning the dangerous intersection. Then, in 2011, Faulconer helped draft a city memo which addressed safety issues at the crosswalk.
"Despite claiming in its motion that Mr. Faulconer did not have personal knowledge about this intersection, [the city] hid...records and
information...which clearly show his substantial personal involvement and knowledge," reads a document filed by Aavang's attorney, George
"[The city's] attempt to mislead the parties and the court tells all of us that Mr. Faulconer knows more than [the city] wanted us to think."
Kindley argues that Faulconer is the only one to speak to what he knew and when.
Richardson, however, argues otherwise.
"Plaintiffs seek to depose Mayor Faulconer purportedly because a citizen complaint came into his office when he was a councilmember. However, the complaint was forwarded by his office to the city's Traffic Engineering Department for handling. The Traffic Engineering Department investigated the complaint, took certain actions to address the issues raised by the complaint, and then responded to the citizen. Mayor Faulconer had no involvement in the handling of the complaint, nor am I aware of any evidence to suggest otherwise."
Judge Meyer will hear the motion to exclude Faulconer from the witness stand at 10:30 am in Department 61.