Jury sides with ex-mayor’s wife in sidewalk fall lawsuit

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SAN DIEGO – The verdict was announced Wednesday in the trial of a lawsuit filed against the city of San Diego by the wife of former Mayor Roger Hedgecock.

Cynthia Hedgecock

Jurors found the city of San Diego liable for neglecting to fix a dangerous sidewalk in Pacific Beach in which Cynthia Hedgecock tripped and fell, rupturing one of her breast implants, forcing her to undergo surgery.

“It was my intent in filing the case that the city recognize the consequences and the pain of failing to respond to notice and to a dangerous condition,” Hedgecock said moments after winning her case.

The city will be required to pay Hedgecock around $20,000 in medical expenses and $65,000  for pain and suffering. The 12-person jury came to a unanimous decision in the case.

“[As far as the] pain and suffering factor, no one wants to go through surgery and of course this is not something you want brought to the public eye,” said juror Matt Dunford.

Hedgecock’s attorney Brett Schreiber told jurors that the city refused to take responsibility, even though it admitted the sidewalk was dangerous and it knew about it. Once the verdict was read, he told FOX 5, this whole thing could have been prevented.

“They could have fixed this problem, a hazard that they knew about for $500 to a $1,000. So when you fail to invest in infrastructure and people needlessly get hurt, it costs you a lot. That’s the message that’s been sent by this jury.”

Chief Deputy City Attorney Catherine Richardson told the jury that the city doesn’t agree that Hedgecock’s fall resulted in a ruptured implant.

Richardson said Hedgecock had a scheduled doctor’s appointment five days after she reportedly fell but didn’t mention it to the physician. The attorney also questioned where Hedgecock fell and said the plaintiff failed to take photos of any injuries.

An MRI done weeks after the fall looked similar to an MRI done in 2012 when Hedgecock said she fell while on vacation in Hawaii, Richardson told the jury. The 2012 MRI showed ruptures of both breast implants, she said.

Medical records show the implants were due for replacement anyway because they were more than 20 years old, the attorney for the city said.

Hedgecock, now 70, testified that she was walking to an appointment on Morrell Street when she caught a toe in the uneven sidewalk and fell hard on her chest, with her arms outstretched.

Hedgecock said she didn’t tell her doctor about it five days later.

“I considered it pretty minor, actually,” Hedgecock testified.

She said she brought it up during a follow-up visit after noticing changes in her breast.

Hedgecock testified that she had surgery to remove the implants and put in new ones in November 2015, saying the recovery was extensive.

“There was a lot of pain,” she said.

Hedgecock said she got her original implants because of “vanity.”

“I wanted to look a little bit better,” the mother of two testified.

She said she brought the lawsuit to bring awareness to the dangerous conditions which resulted in her fall. She is the only plaintiff in the trial.

Her 71-year-old husband was mayor of San Diego from 1983 to 1985, when he was forced to resign after pleading guilty to a felony conspiracy charge stemming from an illegal funding scheme involving his mayoral campaign. The conviction was later reduced to a misdemeanor.