Negligence Lawsuit Against Monterey Park Family Revised

By EGP Staff Report

A judge on ruled last week that lawyers for the parents of a 17-year-old girl who died after being hit by a truck on the Pomona (60) Freeway will have to revise their lawsuit alleging that a Monterey Park family negligently allowed alcohol to be served to the teen before she was killed.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Barbara Scheper said she was not convinced the suit met the statute of limitations when it was revised last August to add Mary Genovia Rodriguez, her son, Kody Genovia, and her daughter, Azia Genovia. But she gave attorneys two weeks to file an amended complaint on behalf of plaintiffs Anette Esmaili and Rodolfo Salazar. The Monterey Park couple, the mother and father of the late 17-year-old Sophia Ilona Salazar, filed the lawsuit in May 2011.

Scheper also placed a stay on the remainder of the case pending the couple’s appeal of her Nov. 16 ruling dismissing the state and two California Highway Patrol officers as defendants. The suit alleges that the officers ignored pleas by the couple’s daughter to help her get home.

The suit also alleges that either no adults were present at the Genovia home when Sophia Salazar and other minors were allowed to consume alcohol, or that if adults were there they were “grossly negligent and derelict.”

Rodolfo Salazar dropped his daughter off at the Genovia residence, the suit states.

Attorneys for the Genovias state that the allegations against their clients should have been brought forward in the original lawsuit, even if their identities were not known to the plaintiffs’ lawyers at the time. The Genovia lawyers say the failure to do so violates the statute of limitations.

In a sworn declaration, Genovia Rodriguez states that at Esmaili’s request she met with the woman two to three months after the teen’s death to discuss what happened at her home that night. Genovia Rodriguez stated that she told Esmaili that she did not normally have alcohol at her residence, but that if it was present she did not know how it got there.

Genovia Rodriguez also states that her husband and brother are members of the Glendale and Los Angeles police departments, respectively. She said her father was an LAPD officer before he became an attorney.

According to the suit, the Pasadena City College student went to a party at the Genovia home the evening of May 28, 2010. She was intoxicated when she left about midnight to return home and walked a mile before becoming lost, according to the lawsuit.

About 12:30 a.m. on May 29, she approached two CHP officers at a 7-Eleven store on Monterey Pass Road in Monterey Park and asked for help in returning to her house, according to her parents’ court papers.

The officers hailed the girl a cab, but she could not pay the $10 fare so resumed her quest to find her way home on foot, according to her parents.

The suit maintains that a “special relationship” had developed between the officers and the teen once they began to assist her.

“The officers failed to pursue the distraught minor or in any way attempt to stop her from walking alone at night in a high-crime area,” their suit alleges.

The CHP later received calls of a woman walking alone on the 60 Freeway, according to the plaintiffs. A helicopter was dispatched, but no rescue vehicle was sent and only one side of the freeway was ordered closed, the family’s court papers state.

The former South Pasadena High School student was struck by a Jeep at about 1 a.m. while walking near the 60/Long Beach (710) Freeway interchange in East Los Angeles.

In a related action, Fire Insurance Exchange is asking a judge to find that they do not have to compensate the Genovias for their costs in hiring lawyers to defend them in the Esmaili and Rodolfo Salazar actions. The insurer maintains that such coverage is not included in the Genovias’ homeowner policy.

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April 4, 2013  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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