Scottsdale pays Gonzalez $45K for falling at Cortesian Apartments

A view of Scottsdale City Council members Suzanne Klapp, Jim Lane and Virginia Korte. (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

A woman tripping and falling outside the Cortesian Apartments in Scottsdale will ultimately cost the municipality $45,000, which could be absorbed by the local primary property tax rate.

During a May 22 Scottsdale City Council meeting at 3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd., council members adopted a resolution authorizing a payment of $45,000 from the Risk Management Operating Budget account, according to the city staff report that detailed the decision to settle.

Although the matter, handled by the City Attorney’s Office and Risk Management, is still in a litigation phase, officials agree that it is in the city’s best interest to pay Kathleen Gonzalez the proposed amount to avoid “substantial” court costs and risk the uncertainties of a trial, the report stated.

Scottsdale City Attorney Bruce Washburn, who oversees the legal proceedings of the West’s Most Western Town. (Independent Newspapers/Arianna Grainey

The litigation stems from a “purported trip and fall” on Feb. 17, 2016 on a city sidewalk in front of the apartments at 7749 E. Camelback Road where Ms. Gonzalez reportedly sustained a fractured left shoulder, minor scrapes and bruises.

The report noted that she initially sought $223,325 in damages against the city but her claim was denied before she then filed a lawsuit.

The city denied liability and named Cortesian Apartments as a non-party at fault since it is the property owner’s responsibility to maintain the sidewalk in front of its complex, based on Scottsdale City Code Section 47-47.

However, Ms. Gonzalez amended her complaint to add the Cortesian Apartments as a co-defendant, cited the report. The parties in dispute participated in a mediation on April 3, 2018 where they were unable to reach a settlement, but progressed towards a resolution, the report said.

After mediation, they continued negotiating and proposed a settlement requiring the city to pay $45,000 of a total $60,000 settlement to Ms. Gonzalez with the apartment’s insurer paying the remaining $15,000.

The proposed $45,000 settlement from the city may be included in the primary property tax rate for the next year, the report detailed. Possible inclusions in the city’s primary property tax rate is based upon an Arizona Attorney General opinion.

Likewise, there’s a long-standing practice of including paid tort settlements equal to or more than $20,000 in the city’s primary tax rate to reimburse the self-insured fund for payment of claims, the report added.

City representatives will proceed with settlement documents as proposed if the settlement is approved so they can obtain a dismissal of the litigation, the report said.

Northeast Valley Editorial Assistant Delarita Ford can be reached by e-mail at dford@newszap.com.

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