The city of San Diego, California is set to pay its former Mayor Roger Hedgecock’s wife almost $85,000 for a fall on a damaged sidewalk in Pacific Beach that allegedly caused one of her breast implants to rupture.
Cynthia Hedgecock, 70, claims that she tripped and fell onto her chest while walking on Morrell Street toward Grand Avenue, on July 31, 2015. She testified that she was carrying folders in one hand, and her phone in the other, which prevented her from adequately breaking her fall, after tripping. She landed on her chest, which caused severe damage to her breast implants. Now, a judge has ordered the city to pay her $85,000 as compensation.
Animation of Cynthia Hedgecock’s fall
“I fell hard on my chest with some impact to my knees,” Hedgecock told the court during her December 5th, 2017 trial, “I was not running. I was wearing flats, and I can’t run in flats.”
Hedgecock did not seek medical attention for her injury for two weeks after the fall, despite visiting medical facilities for unrelated issues twice in that period. On August 17, 2015, she went to Scripps Clinic and complained of chest pain and breast deformation. Her doctor examined her implants and found that they were irreparably damaged and needed to be surgically replaced. The operation took place in November 2015, and cost the Hedgecocks $19,924.04.
Former mayor Roger Hedgecock was named a co-plaintiff in the case, as he had to stay at home with his wife to aid her recovery and thus suffered a loss of income. They sued the city for the full medical expense involved, as well as $65,000 for the physical pain and mental suffering the alleged incident caused.
Photo: News8 video screengrab
City officials, however, disputed their claims. An attorney representing the city stated that while there is no dispute over the dangerous conditions of the sidewalks, there is no proof that the fall occurred where Hedgecock claimed it did. The defense also rejected the notion that the fall caused the damage to Hedgecock’s implants, as they discovered medical records showing that both implants were over 20 years old, had already ruptured as of 2012, and were due for replacement. There were no witnesses to the alleged incident, and Hedgecock did not take any photos of the damage to her clothes or phone to submit as evidence.
Hedgecock’s attorneys have rejected this suggestion of dishonesty, saying in their brief, “Either she has fooled her husband, her friends, her family, her general practitioner and her surgeon and made up a story about tripping and falling and hurting her breasts, or she was really hurt.”
The Hedgecock lawsuit contended that the city is guilty of negligence by not repairing a 2.5-inch rise in the public sidewalk caused by tree roots. They argue that it is irresponsible of the city not to have an inspection system and repair protocol for public paths. San Diego officials have previously considered sidewalk policy changes after a nearly $5 million payout to an injured cyclist who had been launched of his bike by a damaged sidewalk, in 2016.
The jury sided with the Hedgecocks and ordered the city of San Diego to pay them nearly $85,000 in damages, but city officials are considering an appeal.
“We fought hard to protect taxpayers, and make the plaintiff prove her case. We will now consider whether to appeal,” city attorney Chief of Staff Gerry Braun said.
Roger Hedgecock served as mayor of San Diego from 1983 to 1985, but he was forced to resign after being charged and pleading guilty to conspiracy in a scandal involving illegal funding for his mayoral campaign. The conspiracy charges were, however, reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor later on by an appellate judge.