Lawsuit claims utility pole contributed to disabled man’s death

Nolan Sessions died horribly.

About noon on Oct. 12, 2012, the disabled man’s motorized scooter slipped off an unimproved pathway and into a ditch along the 7600 block of Steilacoom Boulevard Southwest in Lakewood and landed atop him.

Trapped and unable to breathe, Sessions died of asphyxia unnoticed as traffic zoomed by on one of the city’s busiest streets.

Last week, one of Session’s daughters, Heather Sessions, sued Tacoma Power and the City of Lakewood, contending they negligently installed a utility pole along Steilacoom Boulevard that contributed to her father’s death.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages; Nolan Sessions’ four adult children sought $1 million from the city in claims filed in 2013, court records show.

“The position of said pole is extremely dangerous to both vehicles using Steilacoom Boulevard and the pedestrians, cyclists and others using the well-traveled path running parallel to Steilacoom Boulevard,” according to the suit, filed Friday in Pierce County Superior Court.

Nolan Sessions, 60, was trying to steer around the pole when his scooter left the path, according to the suit, which was filed on Heather Sessions’ behalf by attorney Alicia Kikuchi.

“The subject pole was placed so as to create an extremely dangerous condition for the traveling public or was allowed to remain in its original position if and when Steilacoom Blvd. was improved ... so as to create an extremely dangerous condition for the traveling public,” the suit states.

Lakewood spokesman Brent Champaco said the city would have no comment on the lawsuit.

Champaco did say construction of a paved sidewalk along that stretch of Steilacoom Boulevard is in the city’s six-year transportation plan. The Puget Sound Regional Council recently gave the city a $900,000 grant for designing the sidewalk and other improvements in that area. but more money would needed before construction could begin, Champaco said.

The city has received no formal complaints about the pole cited in the lawsuit, he added.

Tacoma Power spokeswoman Chris Gleason said the utility would have no comment on the lawsuit.

Adam Lynn: 253-597-8644, @TNTAdam