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Plaintiff Awarded More than $1.2 Million in Mediation Settlement Involving Country’s Oldest Living ALS Survivor

August 6, 2011 Press Releases

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (August 8, 2011)…In a case that reaffirms the right to safe public access for the physically disabled, a $1.25 million out-of-court settlement has been reached in a lawsuit involving the country’s longest survivor of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) — a disease in which victims progressively lose muscle control.

Defendants Troon Golf, LLC and The Crosby National Golf Club, LLC agreed to pay more than $1.1 million to Northridge, Calif. resident Marilyn Cooper, 67.  The rest of the settlement was paid by Summers/Murphy & Partners, Inc., a landscape architect and Masson and Associates, Inc. an engineering firm.

According to attorney Robert J. Francavilla, a partner with Casey Gerry, his client Marilyn Cooper, who has had ALS — also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease — for 36 years, suffered serious injuries after a fall at the exclusive Crosby Estates’ Sports Center in Rancho Santa Fe, just north of San Diego.   “While driving her motorized wheelchair toward a family reunion celebration, she toppled down a two-step stairway that blended into the background and created an illusion of a flat surface,” Francavilla said.  “The change in elevation lacked signage, visual cues and hand rails, and as a result she was unable to see the steps.”  To that end, “our legal team was able to prove that that the defendants clearly chose aesthetics over safety, and violated the California Building Code and ADA requirements, as well as basic common sense in the design and management of the facility, which serves Crosby Estates, a high end residential community.”

Francavilla said he was able to establish both ADA and building code violations in the design of the facility, as well as demonstrate absence of handicapped access.  “What the defendants claimed was adequate handicapped access was actually a dirt path, much like many paths meandering through the complex and clearly not built or marked according to ADA requirements.”

Cooper broke her hip in the fall, and required multiple surgeries to repair her injuries – significantly impacting her already reduced mobility, Francavilla said.  The settlement funds will cover medical care and expenses as well as compensate Cooper for the effect the incident will have on her quality of life.

The settlement was reached after a full-day mediation conducted by Thomas Sharkey of Judicate West.

Francavilla says he hopes this settlement will compel facilities operators, architects and designers to place high importance on safe access for the handicapped.   According to ADA regulations, “stairs must be clearly visible, and handicap ramps should be very prominently marked and integrated into all buildings frequented by the public.”

About Casey Gerry
San Diego’s oldest plaintiff’s law firm, Casey Gerry was founded in 1947, and since then has worked to help recover hundreds of millions of dollars for families and individuals who have suffered serious injury or lost loved ones. The firm’s 13 attorneys practice in numerous areas, including asbestos, personal injury, product liability and pharmaceutical litigation. Located at 110 Laurel St. in the Banker’s Hill neighborhood of San Diego, the firm also has a satellite office in Carlsbad, Calif.  For more information, call (619) 238-1811 or visit the website at