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Bayside Must Stand Trial in Farmers Market Crash

By Lookout Staff

January 9 -- A Superior Court judge Monday cleared the way for a score of civil lawsuits against the Bayside District Corporation in the July 2003 crash that killed ten and injured 60 at a farmers market in Downtown Santa Monica.

The first of the civil lawsuits against the non-profit agency that runs the Downtown will go to trail on March 20, after Superior Court Judge Valerie Baker denied renewed motions for dismissal.

"The Judge's ruling is an affirmation of our civil justice system and the importance of the jury in determining whether or not Bayside District Corporation had a duty to protect the public it invited to attend the Santa Monica Farmer's Market," said Geoffrey S. Wells, the lead attorney representing the plaintiffs.

The decision comes less than two months after a jury convicted George Weller of ten counts of vehicular homicide for ramming his car through the crowded farmers market. The 89-year-old Santa Monica resident was sentenced to five years probation and nearly $100,000 in fines.

The Bayside had petitioned to be released from the lawsuits, which allege the agency was negligent and reckless in holding the event without taking necessary safety precautions. A similar suit against the City was dismissed last year and is under appeal.

"The Bayside did not meet its burden of showing that there are no material factual disputes and that it is entitled to judgement as a matter of law," Baker wrote in June 2006.

"On further review the court finds that the evidence submitted in support of the motion is not sufficient to establish grounds for summary judgement," she wrote.

The verdict is also still out in 38 separate civil lawsuits filed as a result of the crash.








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