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Lawsuit Blames Potholes for Sailor's Death; City Disagrees

3D rendering of gavel, law scales and books on a wooden table
3D rendering of gavel, law scales and books on a wooden table

A lawsuit claims potholes near Naval Base San Diego were responsible for the 2014 death of a man killed in a motorcycle crash there, but city officials dispute that.

A suit filed by the family of U.S. Navy sailor Jamie Scott Powell says city officials should have warned people, particularly motorcyclists and bicyclists, that the road on Harbor Drive near 28th Street was riddled with dangerous potholes.

The suit blames his death, at age 23, on hitting a pothole near some railroad tracks in the area and getting launched into oncoming traffic where he was run over by a vehicle and suffered grave injuries.

Powell was headed to work at the base at the time of the crash.

City officials, however, say testimony from eyewitnesses and experts will show that the city is not responsible.

"Three people witnessed this accident and none saw the motorcyclist hit anything that would cause him to lose control," a spokesman for City Attorney Mara Elliott said on Tuesday. "Rather, experts will testify that the deceased was traveling at an excessive speed on a motorcycle so highly modified that it was unstable and hard to handle."

The spokesman, Gerry Braun, said Powell's death, while regrettable, was not the fault of the city.

"This was a tragedy, but responsibility for it does not lie with the taxpayers," he said.

This article is written by David Garrick from The San Diego Union-Tribune and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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