Judge Rules In Favor of City in Lawsuit from UCSD Student Struck By Car During Protest

San Diego Superior Court Judge John S. Meyer ruled in favor of the City of San Diego on Aug. 10 in the lawsuit of Revelle junior Mariana Flores against the city, UC San Diego, the UC Board of Regents, and other plaintiffs for injuries she sustained during a protest that began on campus the night of President Trump’s election. Flores, who filed her suit in 2017 for personal injury and property damages, was hit by a car when the protest spread out onto Interstate-5, leaving her with a fractured leg, crushed pelvis, and other serious injuries.

The decision was the result of Meyer sustaining a demurrer filed by the city which stated that although the factual basis for Flores’ claim was valid, her attorney’s argument against the city was irrelevant or invalid. In ruling against Flores and in favor of the city, Meyer held that the City did not need to pay any money in punitive damages, attorneys fees, or any other costs.

According to the original complaint filed by Flores’ attorney Gene Sullivan on Nov. 8, 2017, Sullivan argued that the city was at fault because it, along with UCSD and the UC Regents, failed to control the protest and did not properly warn the demonstrators of or protect them from the dangers of entering the freeway. The city was also alleged to be responsible for Flores’ injuries because of “negligence and dangerous condition of public property.”

Sullivan filed an amended complaint a few weeks after the city was dismissed from the case. In the amended complaint, the list of defendants excludes the City and County of San Diego, and lists the State of California’s Department of Transportation where it previously included the State of California as a whole.  

Elaborating in their argument against the Department of Transportation, the complaint says that the Department bears some responsibility because the emergency vehicle that attempted to shut down the freeway did so “inadequately and negligently.” The plaintiff asserts that this allowed the driver of the car who hit Flores to maneuver around the emergency vehicle and strike her.

The remainder of the original defendants — UCSD, the UC Board of Regents, and driver John Edmund House — are still listed on the updated complaint.

The complaint’s description of general negligence asserts that the protest was “organized, maintained and controlled” by UCSD and the UC Regents, who are still listed as defendants in the case. Court documents filed by Sullivan read that “the protest continued all over the campus for hours and was never officially stopped, adequately controlled or refrained by the University of California San Diego…”

The Department and the UC Regents have both filed demurrers in response to the amended complaint. In the event that the lawsuit goes to a jury trial, the opening procedures will begin on April 26, 2019.