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Big Blue Bus Faces Day in Court

By Olin Ericksen
Staff Writer

February 22 -- A 78-year-old man who had his arm amputated after suffering an accident allegedly trying to board Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus will have his opening day in court Wednesday suing the City and Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus for negligence.

Attorneys for Haroun Mehdipour say the elderly man sustained injuries to his left arm and head after he tried to board a Santa Monica bus May 5th, 2004 at the corner of corner of Barrington Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard.

"Had Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus driver complied with the rules and regulations he was required to obey, Haroun Mehdipour would never have been injured," stated Mehdipour's attoney, Browne Greene in a statement Tuesday.

"Instead, the bus driver's haste has forever robbed Haroun of his independence, his vitality and the ability to truly savor the joy of his golden years with his wife and family."

Attoney's for Mehdipour allege he was "clearly in view of the driver's mirror" while walking on the sidewalk along side the bus, "touching the bus and trying to get the driver's attention as he walked toward the front door," said Mehdipour's attorney's in a statement.

"Rather than wait, the Big Blue Bus driver closed the front door before Mr. Mehdipour could enter and drove off, running over Mr. Mehdipour and causing him serious injuries," leading to the amputation of his arm and a "traumatic brain injury," according to Greene.

Greene and his client also allege the driver then tried to drive off after the accident.

"An eyewitness to the incident drove up to the bus and signaled to the driver to stop, but he waved her off and drove away," according to the statement.

Santa Monica's City attorney's office did not return calls for comment on the case.

Mehdipour is suing the City for negligence in the hiring and supervision of its Big Blue Bus driver. It is unknown if the driver is still employed by Big Blue Bus.

The law firm of Greene Broillet & Wheeler, which represents Mehdipour, is the same firm representing many of the plaintiffs who are suing the City in the farmer's market tragedy nearly three years ago when an elderly man allegedly plowed through shoppers at an outdoor food market Downtown. (see related story).

Opening statements in Mehdipour's case are scheduled for Wednesday afternoon. The case -- LLP. Haroun vs. City of Santa Monica, Case No. SC083537-- will be heard by Hon. John L. Segal in the Los Angeles Superiour Court/ West Los Angeles division. The trial is expected to last two weeks.

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