Pasadena settles $7.3 million lawsuit after tree branch falls on daycare playground

The family of a toddler, who was struck by a falling tree branch at a Pasadena daycare center in 2017, will be awarded more than $7 million following a lawsuit settlement reached early this month.

2-year-old Adelaide Palmstrom suffered skull, neck and leg fractures when a tree branch from a nearby park fell into the playground of Linda Vista Children Center while children were playing on lunch break.

The parents of the injured toddler filed the lawsuit in state court in 2018, suing the city of Pasadena, the daycare center, a local arborist and the Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD). The children’s center leased the property under an agreement with PUSD. According to the original complaint, the city “controlled a portion of the location involving the tree.” 

Two other children, ages 3 and 4, suffered minor injuries when they were struck with smaller branches. Both families joined Palmstrom’s lawsuit.

Altogether, the three toddlers were awarded $7.3 million in a settlement that will wrap up this month, but the largest portion of the award will go to Palmstrom, who suffered the most severe injuries.

The city of Pasadena has agreed to pay Palmstrom $2.4 million and the other families will split an additional $100,000, according to court filings.

The school district tree-trimming contractor will pay Palmstrom $2.48 million, while $20,000 will be awarded to the other families.

The daycare center, Linda Vista Children Center, will be paying Palmstrom another $1.97 million, while the other families will split an additional $30,000.

Pasadena Unified, the last party to settle according to Palmstrom’s attoney, has agreed to pay the families $300,000, but the exact disbursements have not been made public yet.

Palmstrom’s award will be slowly handed out to the toddler as she gets older. It’s meant to cover the cost of ongoing medical bills as well as compensation for pain, suffering and a loss of future wages.

The young girl spent seven weeks wearing a halo and a leg cast, then later underwent plastic surgery to address some scarring, according to court filings. She is believed to have a traumatic brain injury from the incident.

The lawsuit lasted for nearly two years as the parties argued over liability. The city alleged Pasadena Unified was responsible for maintaining the tree that injured Palmstrom. The district received “multiple notices” from the landscaping company about the condition of the tree, the lawsuit says.

None of the parties admitted liability by settling the lawsuit.