San Diego

City Cleared $5.4 Million Alleged Pothole Lawsuit Linked to Navy Sailor's Deadly Motorcycle Crash

U.S. Navy sailor Jamie Powell, 23, was killed in a crash on Harbor Drive, near 28th Street, on March 17, 2014

Jurors have sided with the City of San Diego in a $5.4 million lawsuit filed by the family of a U.S. Navy sailor who died in a motorcycle crash -- an accident the family claims was caused by a pothole on a city road.

On March 17, 2014, Navy service member Jamie Powell, 23, was killed in a collision on Harbor Drive near 28th Street. While on his way to work at a shipyard, Powell’s motorcycle hit a depression in the road near railroad tracks.

According to court documents, the impact launched him off his motorcycle and into oncoming traffic. He was then run over by a driver in an SUV.

Powell died at the hospital shortly after the accident.

The sailor’s family filed a lawsuit against the City of San Diego.

The lawsuit claimed the city should’ve known the road in front of the shipyard was riddled with potholes and was potentially deadly for motorcyclists and bicyclists. The family’s lawsuit said the city should’ve done something to warn motorists of the condition of the road.

In pre-trial hearings, both sides discussed whether the city was required to put up a sign regarding those potholes. A deputy city attorney argued the city did not need a sign; city crews blame the problems on the rails running through the area.

The city attorney's office said it was unclear if Powell hit the railroad tracks rather than a pothole.

The city, defended by Chief Deputy City Attorney Jane M. Boardman, argued that Powell was speeding at the time of the crash, which is what ultimately led to his death. 

After a nine-day trial, the jury deliberated for 30 minutes and reached a unanimous verdict on Monday in favor of the City of San Diego.

San Diego City Attorney Mara W. Elliott praised the jury’s decision and released this statement:

“Jurors saw the truth in this case where a young man lost his life by riding at an excessive speed on a modified motorcycle. It was a senseless tragedy that no city could prevent and for which taxpayers held no responsibility.”

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