The family of a San Diego man who died after crashing his Segway motorized vehicle is suing the city of San Diego for wrongful death and failure to maintain a sidewalk.
According to the lawsuit, Jeff Hassett suffered serious personal injuries after his Segway struck a concrete stub protruding three to four inches from the sidewalk.
The accident happened March 1, 2016, near the Old Town Transit Center on Taylor Street just south of Congress Street.
“Either this lamp post got struck by a vehicle or it was partly removed by someone and they just left a four-inch stub just sitting there. It’s inexcusable,” Hassett's attorney Brett Schreiber said.
According to the lawsuit, Hassett sustained broken ribs, an injured toe and damage to his internal defibrillator. As a result of his injuries, Hassett’s toe had to be amputated and due to resulting infection and cardiac complications, he died of his injuries on May 13, 2016.
“It just seemed so obvious to me that that was lurking as a potential health threat to almost half the population that might have to travel that sidewalk,” said Chris Hassett, Jeff Hassett’s brother.
Chris Hassett said his brother was limited by heart bypass surgery and used the Segway as his preferred mobility device. He said he had driven for about five years and was very adept. Chris Hassett called city’s failure to address the dangerous sidewalk a terrible oversight.
“I think there should be a task force out there in a very preventative way looking at sidewalk hazards, road hazards, demonstrating to the people of this city that they are as committed as any city in this country to protect public safety,” Chris Hassett said.
There is no monetary damage called for in the suit, but the Hassett attorney said the case could end up being one of the largest payouts in city history for a sidewalk lawsuit.
Schriebier was the attorney in another high profile suit over a sidewalk hazard. He represented the wife of former San Diego Mayor Roger Hedgecock. In December, a jury awarded Cynthia Hedgecock $85,000 after a sidewalk fall that ruptured a breast implant.
Representatives for the city of San Diego have not immediately answered questions on the current lawsuit, or whether there were any previous complaints about the sidewalk hazard in question on Taylor Street.