In August 2013, honeymooner Alice Gruppioni was walking with her husband along the world-famous Venice Beach Boardwalk. But instead of a loving start to a new life together, Alice was tragically struck by a vehicle in front of her husband, suffering fatal injuries.
Shernoff Bidart Echeverria Bentley LLP filed a lawsuit Tuesday on behalf of Alice’s family accusing the City and County of Los Angeles of causing her death due to the dangerous condition of public property present on the Venice Beach Boardwalk.
The lawsuit also accuses the driver of the vehicle, Nathan Campbell, of negligence and other intentional torts for his role in causing Alice’s death.
The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, contends that the City and County violated California Government Code §835, in that the Boardwalk and adjacent property were in a dangerous condition at the time of the incident.
The dangerous condition included, but was not limited to, the failure to provide adequate barriers and bollards to prevent non-emergency vehicles from driving onto and along the Boardwalk.
As a result, nothing prevented Nathan Campbell from driving onto the Boardwalk and along the pedestrian walkway, where he would strike and injure several pedestrians—including Alice and Christian.
“With Alice, my life was complete as I had married my soul mate,” said Christian Casadei, Alice’s husband. “I miss her so much and wish I could turn back the clock. Tragically, I can’t.”
After the tragedy occurred, SBEB attorney Gregory L. Bentley began investigating both the incident and the history regarding the safety of the Venice Boardwalk. SBEB filed a California Government Code §910 claim on January 27, 2014 which is the first step in a civil claim.
“The law and the expectations on governing agencies is clear—the City and County must protect the thousands that flock to the Boardwalk each day, and must even protect against the negligent or criminal acts of others,” Bentley said. “Here, the City and County knew that upwards of 15 cars were driving on the Boardwalk every day—that is simply unacceptable from a public safety standpoint. This tragedy should never have happened.”
Valerio Gruppioni, Alice’s father, said “My wife and I adored Alice. We want to know why the people making decisions in Los Angeles didn’t do all they could to protect my daughter and every other daughter who visits that boardwalk. And why they haven’t even taken the minimal steps to pay homage to the tragedy that day.”
“It still hurts, we all still feel the pain,” said Alice’s aunt, Katia Gruppioni. “I keep asking myself ‘why did this have to happen’ and ‘why had nothing been done to protect her,’ which only makes the pain that much worse.”
Alice Gruppioni and Christian Casadei were married in Italy on July 20, 2013.
During their honeymoon, the couple visited Ocean Front Walk, commonly known as the Venice Beach Boardwalk —a heavily visited and world-renowned pedestrian thoroughfare.
The world-famous Boardwalk receives millions of visitors every year.
At approximately 6 p.m. on August 3, 2013, Nathan Louis Campbell drove his car from an adjacent street, Dudley Avenue, onto the Boardwalk.
Campbell was able to drive his car onto the Boardwalk unimpeded due to the absence of adequate barriers or bollards to prevent unauthorized vehicle access.
He was then able to drive along the Boardwalk because the City and County of Los Angeles did not take adequate steps to prevent unauthorized vehicles from traveling along the heavily populated area.
Indeed, the City and County of Los Angeles had reports of up to 15 unauthorized vehicles driving onto and along the Boardwalk per day in the months leading up to August 2013. Yet they did not take adequate steps to prevent his tragedy.
Heartbreakingly, honeymooners Alice and Christian were walking together on the Boardwalk when Campbell careened his vehicle through the crowds—his vehicle struck them both. While Christian suffered injuries of his own, Alice’s were fatal.
Alice was born and raised in Pianoro, a small town close to Bologna, Italy.
At the age of 19, she began working for the family business, Sira Group, which is an Italian radiator manufacturer with facilities and distributors throughout the world.
Alice was envisaged as the future of the company’s leadership, and would have ascended to that position when her father—current president of Sira—retired. With succession already in progress, Alice was striving toward a bright and brilliant future.
On July 20, 2013, at the age of 32, Alice further enriched a future so full of promise and success by marrying Christian in Italy. Thereafter, the couple decided to spend part of their honeymoon in California.