Wrongful Death Lawsuit Dismissed

The relatives of a man killed when a transient threw an incendiary device into his parked car have abandoned their lawsuit against the City of Long Beach just days before a court was scheduled to consider the City’s motion to dismiss the action.

On April 14, 2013, while sitting in his car parked in front of a 7-Eleven store at 5109 Pacific Coast Highway, Jerry Payne was burned to death after Raymond Sean Clark, a panhandler, walked over to the car and threw in an incendiary device. Clark’s motives for the senseless attack are not known.

Payne’s brothers and sisters filed a lawsuit against the 7-Eleven where the incident occurred, and against the City of Long Beach. As against the City of Long Beach, the Plaintiffs claimed that the City failed to provide adequate police protection and guard against Clark’s violent propensities, and “the dangerous propensities of the local transients/vagrants/panhandlers. . .”

The Long Beach City Attorney’s Office immediately filed a motion to dismiss the action, technically called a demurrer, arguing that under well settled California law, the City cannot be legally responsible for random acts of violence occurring within the City. As the motion hearing date approached, the attorney representing the Plaintiffs agreed to dismiss as against the City. The case will proceed, however, as against 7-Eleven.

The case is entitled Cornet Horton, as Administrator and personal representative of the Estate of Jerry Arnold Payne et al. v City of Long Beach et al., Los Angeles Superior Court Case No.: BC542298. A copy of the complaint is attached hereto.

For additional information concerning the case please contact Monte H. Machit, Assistant City Attorney at 562 570 2236 or at monte.machit@longbeach.gov.