$1M Settlement in Motorist’s Death in Crash with Police Car
By Dean I. Weitzman, Esq. on November 20th, 2015
The estate of a Williamsport, Pa., man who died in January 2014 when his car was struck by a speeding police car that was heading to a call has reached a $1 million settlement with the city.
The estate of James D. Robinson, who was 42 years old at the time of the crash on Jan. 12, 2014, reached the settlement Nov. 2 with the city of Williamsport and the former officer involved in the crash, according to a Nov. 13 story on PennLive.com.
Robinson died when his car was struck by a speeding police car being driven about 6:50 p.m. by former officer Jonathan DePrenda, who “was traveling at speeds up to 101 mph with emergency lights and siren activated east on East Third Street, which has a 35 mph speed limit,” the story reported.
DePrenda was heading to help another officer who had been involved in a pursuit which ended just one minute before DePrenda’s car struck Robinson’s vehicle, the story said. “DePrenda was in the process of passing three vehicles when the lead one, driven by Robinson attempted a left turn onto Railway Street.”
The police car hit Robinson’s car with an impact speed of 88 mph, according to testimony during a preliminary hearing in the criminal case, the story reported. “Robinson’s car burst into flames after it struck a utility pole and a vacant house. He was pronounced dead at the scene.”
DePrenda was fired from the police force by the city in October 2014 and pleaded guilty in August to a charge of involuntary manslaughter charge in connection with Robinson’s death, the story reported. He was placed on five years’ probation.
The settlement was approved in U.S. Middle District Court by Judge John E. Jones III.
Under the agreement, the settlement will be received by Robinson’s mother and soul survivor, Nancy Westbrooks, the story reported. The city is also obligated to provide an apology to Westbrooks for the incident and also rename its cultural arts grant program for Robinson and fund it at a $3,000 level for the next 10 years, the story said. A plaque in Robinson’s honor will also have to be placed inside a city building, under the deal.
In addition, the city of Williamsport will adopt a new pursuit policy developed with input from Westbrooks and her attorney, as well as provide additional training for all city police officers on emergency vehicle operation, the story reported.
DePrenda also apologized to Westbrooks for the crash, according to the story.
These kinds of tragic legal cases occur every day when innocent victims are severely hurt or killed in vehicle crashes through no fault of their own due to the actions, inattentiveness or indifference of others. That’s why it is critical to have a legal team on your side that uncovers every fact to bolster your case and maximize your damage award.
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