Oct 26, 2009 Timothy T. Coates
Court of Appeal bars dangerous condition liability for city based on failure to install particular type of traffic signal

City of Moreno Valley v. Superior Court (2009) 2009 Cal.App. Unpub. LEXIS 8478 (California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division Two) [unpublished]. The plaintiff asserted that GMSR’s client city was liable for a dangerous condition in an intersection. Plaintiff was traveling on his motorcycle southbound on a two lane road when he was struck by a northbound vehicle illegally turning left in front of him at an intersection controlled by a regular stoplight. Plaintiff argued that the City should have put in a left turn light or phased signal, given the increased speed and volume of traffic through the intersection. The City demurred, arguing there could be no liability for failure to place a particular kind of traffic control device, relying on Government Code provisions stating that the mere absence of a traffic control device cannot be a dangerous condition absent some physical defect of the property. The trial court overruled the demurrer, and GMSR partner Tim Coates filed a writ petition for the City, arguing that a claim based on failure to install a particular type of device was indistinguishable from a claim based on failure to install any device at all and hence fell within the immunity. The Court of Appeal agreed and directed the trial court to dismiss the action.