Two Fatal Fire Truck Crashes, Two Settlements in Ohio
By Dean I. Weitzman, Esq. on July 16th, 2016
Two separate fatal crashes between fire trucks and other vehicles have been settled in Ohio, providing compensation for two families that lost loved ones
The first crash, which happened in July 2007, involved a fire truck owned by the City of Canton, Ohio, which struck a van that was being driven by Dale Burlingame, who was driving home with his wife after celebrating their 53rd wedding anniversary, according to a July 13 story in The Canton Repository.
Dale Burlingame was killed when the truck, Pumper No. 603, , smashed into his van as the fire truck was heading to an emergency call, the story reported. The siren on the truck was not working but its emergency lights were activated and the driver was using an air horn to alert motorists of the emergency, the story continued. The fire truck driver thought the light was green when he was proceeding through the intersection on Cleveland Avenue NW from 18th Street, but the plaintiffs argued that the firefighter had run a red light.
Burlingame’s wife, Grace, was seriously injured in the crash and sued the city in 2009, alleging that the city and fire truck driver were not immune to a legal challenge because the driver did not stop at the red light, the story reported.
Canton and the plaintiffs agreed to a $350,000 settlement in the case, according to the story. Originally, the plaintiffs lost their case in court when a judge ruled the city was immune from such a lawsuit, but an appeal’s court judge overturned the original ruling, the story reported. The city then appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court, which remanded it to Common Pleas Court.
Mrs. Burlingame died after the lawsuit was filed. About $310,000 of the settlement will be paid by the city and its insurance company to the couple’s estate, the story said. Another $40,000 will be paid by Dale Burlingame’s insurance company.
In the second unrelated case, a $362,500 settlement was awarded to family members of a 72-year-old man and his 4-year-old stepgrandson who were killed in 2008 when the van they were riding in collided with a Massillon, Ohio, fire truck at Walnut Road SE and Johnson Ave SE, according to a July 13 story by The Canton Repository.
The victims, Ronald Anderson, 72, and the boy, 4-year-old Javarre Tate, died when Anderson’s van collided with the Massillon fire truck as it was heading to a fire call, the story reported. The case was settled in February after a legal battle that also included the defendants arguing that the fire company and town were immune because the vehicle was involved in official duties when the crash occurred.
Attorneys for the plaintiff, Anderson’s widow, Cynthia, “argued that the firetruck driver was traveling at excessive and unsafe speeds given the neighborhood and type of emergency,” the story reported.
“Lawyers called the civil case a turning point because it had been cited in more than 100 legal decisions,” the story reported. “The case — Anderson vs. Massillon — bounced from Common Pleas Court to both the 5th District and Ohio Supreme Court twice, and then back to Common Pleas after a Stark County judge first ruled that the city and its firefighters were immune to prosecution.”
Cynthia Anderson’s lawyer told the paper that the legal fight was about making sure that such a crash doesn’t happen again. Because of the case, laws have been changed affecting fire truck operations in Ohio, the attorney said. “The training of every Ohio first responder cadet now teaches the lesson of Anderson v. Massillon. Though the cost was the tragic loss of Ronnie and Javarre, our community is safer because of it.”
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.
We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or a loved one is ever seriously injured in a vehicle incident or accident anywhere in the United States. We represent the families of victims who die in such tragedies as well, to ensure that their families receive every penny of damages that they are eligible to receive.
Call MyPhillyLawyer at 215-227-2727 or toll-free at 1-(866) 352-4572 anytime and our experienced, compassionate, aggressive team of attorneys and support staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as we manage your case through the legal system.
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