Judge Says City Not at Fault in 2013 Crash that Left a Motorcyclist Paralyzed

A Long Beach Superior Court judge has ruled in favor of the city of Long Beach in a case alleging the city was partially responsible for a 2013 crash that caused serious injuries to a motorcyclist, city officials announced Monday.

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In the case of Karl Kuhn v. City of Long Beach, Kuhn sued the city and the driver of an SUV over a 2013 incident during which Kuhn sustained serious injuries, including paraplegia while driving a motorcycle.

On September 26, 2013, Kuhn was driving a motorcycle westbound on Spring Street and approaching San Anseline Avenue when Michael Schaffel, driving an SUV, turned directly in front of Kuhn, according to a release. To avoid Schaffel, Kuhn was forced to lay his motorcycle down and, in the process, sustained serious injuries.

In Kuhn’s lawsuit against the city and Schaffel, his attorneys contended that the accident was caused because a “No-U Turn” sign posted on a median along Spring Street had blocked Schaffel’s view of Kuhn’s motorcycle, officials stated.

“The City argued that the “No-U Turn” sign was not in a dangerous location, and that the sign would have only momentarily obscured Schaffel’s vision,” according to the release. “The City maintained that a driver who stopped at the limit line and used reasonable care would have had ample opportunity to see the approaching motorcycle, especially since the motorcycle had illuminated headlights.”

Additionally, the city argued that the sign’s placement was part of a planned design for the intersection, approved by a licensed city traffic engineer and that the design of the intersection and placement of the traffic control sign were in every respect reasonable.

The judge agreed and granted the pretrial summary judgment motion in the city’s favor, sparing the city the cost associated with a full trial, according to city officials.

The case was handled by the Long Beach City Attorney’s Office and Deputy City Attorney Theodore B. Zinger.

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