The Santa Barbara Superior Court set a hearing date yesterday for the multimillion dollar lawsuit, filed by the family of a young woman who fell from the Del Playa bluffs last year, against the Isla Vista Recreation and Park District, Santa Barbara County and the UC Regents.
The Superior Court will hear the case on Oct. 24, 2006, Michael Youngdahl, deputy council for the county, said. In the lawsuit, the family of San Francisco resident Emily King alleges that the negligence of the IVRPD, UC Regents, and County of Santa Barbara is responsible for King’s fall from the bluffs on the 6700 block of Del Playa Drive on Sept. 19, 2004. Youngdahl said the county is preparing a case to fight the lawsuit.
At tonight’s IVRPD meeting at 6 at 961 Embarcadero Del Mar, the district’s board of directors will hear public comment regarding the suit, and will then go into closed session to discuss the lawsuit among its members.
Youngdahl said the King family filed a complaint with the County of Santa Barbara in March 2005 claiming that inadequate law enforcement patrols and supervision on the cliffs, as well as a lack of lighting and signage on the Del Playa bluffs, contributed to Emily King’s fall. He said the language of the actual lawsuit is less specific than the initial complaint filed by the family.
“The claim is for the dangerous condition of the property,” Youngdahl said. “Frankly, the [lawsuit] is unclear. They do not say specifically what made the property dangerous … What they filed in court does not say any of those things.” Derek Johnson, IVRPD general manager, said tonight’s board meeting will give the public a chance to make comments about the lawsuit. He said the board’s directors will not share any of their personal opinions about the suit during the public comment period.
“It’s an opportunity for the public to comment on the lawsuit,” Johnson said.
During the closed session, Johnson said the IVRPD’s insurance carrier, the California Associate for Park and Recreation Insurance (CAPRI), will update the directors on the status of the case. Johnson declined to comment on the lawsuit.
IVRPD Director Brian Brown said he does not think local residents will show up to comment about the lawsuit and tonight’s discussion will affect the way the IVRPD or its lawyers proceed in the case.
“I don’t expect to hear anything, to be honest,” Brown said.