Plaintiffs’ Legal Team Not Surprised with Not Guilty Plea in Calif. Vehicular Manslaughter Case

December 9, 2004

Geoffrey Wells, who represents more than 11 of the plaintiffs in their wrongful death or personal injury civil suits against the City of Santa Monica, California arising out of the July 16, 2003 Santa Monica Farmers’ Market tragedy, responsed to George Russell Weller’s arraignment Wednesday in which he pled not guilty to 10 counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence that:

“George Russell Weller’s plea of not guilty to ten counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence is not surprising given that he allegedly hit the gas pedal instead of the brakes, and thus lacks the intent to commit a crime. Now, it is up to a jury to determine Mr. Weller’s fate, and we just hope that after more than a year-and-a-half of waiting this case will go to trial without any further delays.

“In the interim, our clients who have civil suits against Mr. Weller for personal injury or wrongful death must continue to bide their time until there is an outcome in the criminal case. This waiting period is understandably difficult since it gives them no closure for the horrific events on that fatal day in July 2003 at the Santa Monica Farmers Market.

“Our clients know that Mr. Weller played a role that has forever changed their lives. But, they strongly believe that the City of Santa Monica played an even greater, more critical role because it never installed protective barriers that would have stopped Mr. Weller’s vehicle short in its tracks. The National Transportation Safety Board’s investigative report supports this position, finding that the City of Santa Monica failed in its duty to install proper traffic safety measures which would have prevented this tragedy. This is an important truth and, on behalf of our clients, we will not allow the City of Santa Monica to avoid its responsibility to them by foisting all of the blame on Mr. Weller.”

The plaintiffs are represented by Brian Panish, Timothy Wheeler and Geoffrey Wells with Greene, Broillet, Panish & Wheeler. The defendant, the City of Santa Monica, is represented by the Santa Monica City Attorney.

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