A former security guard from Maywood who suffered a spinal cord injury after tripping on a curb at a Loyola Marymount University construction site in 2013 was awarded $16.3 million today in his lawsuit against a contractor, but his attorney said the total his client receives may be about a third of that amount due to the contributing negligence of the plaintiff and the school.
A Los Angeles Superior Court jury deliberated for several days before finding in favor of 61-year-old Steven Paul Picazzo in his lawsuit against C.W. Driver Inc.
The panel apportioned negligence at 40 percent to C.W. Driver, 15 percent to Picazzo and 45 percent by LMU, which was not sued.
Attorney Harvey Horikawa, who stood in for plaintiff's trial attorney Edward Deason to take the verdict, said he believed Picazzo will receive about $6 million after all the setoffs are calculated.
Horikawa said Picazzo's main goal in filing the lawsuit was to be able to get the care he needs at home after spending the last four years in a care facility.
Horikawa said confidential settlements were previously reached with three other defendants.
Picazzo, who appeared in court in a wheelchair, said he was pleased with the verdict. Asked if he believed the long legal fight was worth it, he replied, "I've never been through something like this, so I guess so."
According to the lawsuit, LMU hired C.W. Driver to build a $110 million Life Science building across the road from the Pereira Hall of Engineering structure. The contractor took over a part of a small internal campus roadway to provide a place for trucks and a construction crane, which required the building of a temporary bypass road.
Picazzo, who worked for a private security service, went to LMU about 6 p.m. Aug. 30, 2013, to work a special event that night at the gym, his court papers stated. He suffered the spinal injury when he stepped on a rolled black asphalt curb, lost his balance and fell head-first at about 7:50 p.m. into a k-rail barricade in the construction area, his court papers stated.
Picazzo's lawsuit alleged C.W. Driver negligently created the trip hazard and failed to take steps to make sure it was not dangerous to pedestrians.