November 13, 2013 at 4:52 pm
Westminster leaders have settled a lawsuit resulting in the city’s largest legal settlement in five years.
The city paid $300,000 to a girl who was seriously injured in September 2011 after a fountain in the Civic Center fell on top of her. An additional $45,000 went to her father, Jaime, for emotional distress after witnessing the accident.
Hayley Lynn Casker was playing in a park area of the Civic Center. Her father, Jaime, was watching close by.
Hayley, age 7 at the time, spotted a large decorative fountain with three large bowls that wasn’t working. She approached the fountain and reached for a pool of water left in the base. The heavy concrete structure collapsed on her, crushing her body, according to a complaint filed in Orange County Superior Court.
Both her femurs were broken, and her left femur broke through the skin. Her two front two front teeth were also broken, said the family’s attorney, Alan C. Brown.
Jaime Casker rushed over, took the broken fountain off of his daughter and carried her to get help. An off-duty Westminster police officer was nearby and came to their aid. Paramedics soon showed up.
“Her father witnessed what happened, and he thought his daughter had died,” Brown said.
In the suit, the family claimed that the fountain was in need of repair and not properly maintained by the city. The area was not surrounded with warning barricades or signs indicating the fountain was not working and could be dangerous, the complaint alleged. Further, the city did not have records for maintenance and inspection, Brown said.
The family originally asked for $1.2 million, said Westminster Deputy City Attorney Harold W. Potter. On July 24, during closed session, the City Council approved the settlement.
The Caskers avoided a jury trial to put the issue behind them, their attorney said. “We felt basically at that point the city was being fair and the dad wanted closure for his daughter,” Brown said.
Hayley’s left femur was surgically repaired. Today, Hayley is recovering and still walks with a limp, Brown said. Hayley’s money will be paid out over time, starting when she is 18 to offset any future medical bills she may have.
The fountain has been removed, Potter said.