South City at odds with county over pending lawsuit 

A city complaint has been filed against San Mateo County in a wrongful death lawsuit over a crash on Westborough Boulevard despite moves by the county to resolve longstanding safety concerns there.

The City Council voted unanimously on Feb. 14 to file a cross-complaint against the county seeking compensation for any losses suffered from a lawsuit stemming from the most recent in a string of crossover accidents on Westborough. The decision came despite a vote the day before by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors to approve $191,000 for a 1,000-foot guardrail down the center of the heavily trafficked street.

The lawsuit at issue was filed by the family of Ray Masaganda, who was killed Aug. 9, 2006 on Westborough when another vehicle crossed the center line and struck his car head-on as he was driving to pick up his wife Maria from a hula lesson. His is the latest of five fatal crossover accidents on Westborough between Junipero Serra Boulevard and Camaritas Avenue since 1990, according to police records.

Maria Masaganda filed a wrongful death lawsuit Nov. 6, 2006 against San Mateo County, South San Francisco, the state and the family whose son crossed over the center barrier. The lawsuit charges the county, city and state with negligence in failing to provide a center barrier.

Border lines between the city and county zig-zag along that stretch of road; city officials estimate 17 percent of it is within South San Francisco city limits. The two agencies have been in a tug of war over the road for months, with county officials until recently arguing that a center divider was not needed.

The South San Francisco City Council is expected to vote soon on roughly $39,000 for their share of the guardrail project, and officials said it could be completed by the end of June.

"I think the timing just coincided," said Councilwoman Karyl Matsumoto of the new citycomplaint. "It goes to liability — it goes to a lot of things."

South San Francisco City Attorney Steve Mattas said the city has a contract with the county for the county to maintain the road and to "indemnify in the event there’s any claim associated with the road."

Deputy County Counsel Raymond Swope said the guardrail and the lawsuit were "mutually exclusive" despite the timing of recent events.

"The erection of the guardrail is not an admission of liability by any of the parties," Swope said.

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