Jury rules in favor of city over alleged ‘mystery boulder’ car crash

A Los Angeles Superior Court jury has found the city of Long Beach was not at fault in a 2012 accident in which a 25-year-old man was seriously injured when the car he was riding in hit landscaping boulders at the intersection of Second Street and Appian Way.

Long Beach resident Fermin Villa in his lawsuit against the city alleged that the ramp from Appian Way on to East Second Street is poorly designed and dangerous. Villa said the car flipped after it hit “mystery boulders” in a median on Appian and that the city has long known about the intersection’s dangerous conditions.

After a month-long trial, the jury on Thursday ruled in favor of the city, officials said in a statement. In the trial, the city denied liability, contending that the driver was the sole cause of the accident. Jurors heard evidence that the ramp was properly designed and that no other accident has occurred at that location.

Jurors also heard evidence that the driver had been drinking and was speeding at the time of the accident, officials said.

Fermin Villa is suing the city after he was injured in an accident in 2012. (Credit:Balaban & Spielberger LLP)

Villa suffered major brain and spinal injuries in August 2012 when the car allegedly hit the boulders in a median and flipped as it merged onto Second Street from the curving eastbound connector on Appian Way.

His attorney, Daniel Balaban, said city officials have acknowledged that three boulders in the median between Second and Appian are not there for decorative reasons and that their origin is a mystery.

Villa had asked for $40 million in damages.

In a previous trial, a jury ruled 9-3 in favor of the city but the judge later declared a mistrial due to juror misconduct.

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Kelly Puente is a general assignment and special projects reporter at the Long Beach Post. Her prolific reporting has taken her all over Southern California—even to the small Catalina Island town of Two Harbors. She is a Tiki mug collector and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public policy and administration at Cal State Long Beach. Reach her at [email protected].