San Diego is paying out $2.8 million to settle six lawsuits, including $1.4 million to a bicyclist injured along the downtown harbor and $500,000 to a man shot by police.
The city has also agreed to spend $4.9 million planting trees in a settlement with the local air pollution control district over asbestos air emissions at 101 Ash St. and at a firefighter training facility in Point Loma.
The City Council unanimously approved each settlement Tuesday.
The largest payout is going to Steven Scholl, who was injured while riding his bicycle on North Harbor Drive near Spanish Landing in March 2020. His lawsuit blamed a “significant asphalt defect” for ejecting him from his bike.
The city is also paying $495,000 to the estate of Timothy Gene Smith, who was killed in an officer-involved shooting in November 2015 in Pacific Beach.
A lawsuit filed on behalf of Smith says he was shot while unarmed. The suit says the shooting likely would not have happened if bounty hunters hadn’t falsely asserted Smith was armed and dangerous.
The evidence in the case included footage from body-worn police officer cameras. The payout will go to Smith’s mother and son in Missouri. Smith was visiting his sister in San Diego at the time of the shooting.
The city is also paying out $500,000 to Diane Noel Lloyd, who suffered severe foot injuries while leaving the U.S. Post Office in Clairemont in December 2020.
Lloyd’s lawsuit says the injuries were caused when she collapsed to the ground after her feet got caught in a dangerous pothole at Clairemont Drive and Cole Street.
The city is also paying out $350,000 to Gloria Richley, who was injured when a damaged sidewalk caused her to fall on Larga Circle in Point Loma.
Another payout of $125,000 is going to Richard Bareno, who was injured when a police vehicle crashed into his car at Jamacha Road and Meadowbrook Drive in Skyline in December 2018.
The last payout is going to Sriloga Kathirelavan for injuries suffered when a lamppost fell on her at Ocean Air Recreation Center in Torrey Hills. Her lawsuit contends the city failed to properly maintain the lamppost.
In the deal with the air pollution control district, the city must pay $250,000 in cash in addition to the tree planting. The planting must take place from July 2023 to December 2028.
Trees will be planted on city property in low-income neighborhoods, including Barrio Logan, Logan Heights, Sherman Heights, Grant Hill, Stockton, San Ysidro and other parts of southeastern San Diego.
The council previously approved the settlements in sessions closed to the public.
Most of the settlements include compensatory and punitive damages. The size of injury payouts varies widely and is often based on the effect to the long-term earning potential of the injured person.
The settlements come after a 2020 city audit that found San Diego could significantly reduce the nearly $25 million a year it spends on lawsuit payouts if it invests in better employee training and deeper analyses of risks.
The audit found that San Diego spent $220 million total over nine fiscal years, from 2010 to 2018, handling about 20,000 claims and lawsuits filed during that time.
Auditors also recommended proactive measures like fixing damaged sidewalks and concrete in key areas and revamping dangerous intersections.