Facing some criticism during a recent City Council meeting, Lake Forest Mayor Scott Voigts explained his filing of a lawsuit in 2019, and the subsequent payout he received for an injury he said he suffered because an uneven portion of public sidewalk caused him to fall from his wheelchair.

Voigts and the city attorney addressed the injury suit at the Tuesday, July 20, council meeting, after a pair of Lake Forest residents questioned why the claim had not appeared on a City Council agenda when the mayor sued the city or when he received the settlement in November 2020.

According to court records provided by city officials, Voigts was paid $135,000 for the 2018 incident, in which he said he broke his femur. Another $15,000 was paid to his wife, who the suit argued suffered emotional distress and physical injury after the incident, which caused her to miss work.

The lawsuit, filed in Orange County Superior Court in January 2019, said Voigts fell from his wheelchair after hitting a section of cracked sidewalk at Pittsford Park in March 2018. The mayor said he was on a walk with his wife at the time.

“They do this every day,” he said of the California Joint Powers Insurance Authority. “You would want them to work through claims, to ask the questions, to do the investigations, than to have city staff. City staff doesn’t have that experience. That’s why you hire insurance companies.”

Lawsuits that would be handled by the city attorney and discussed with the City Council include claims made involving city code or other legislation. In those cases, council members would be updated during a closed session, “and then that would be reported out” to the public, Neves said.

Source: OC Register