Police cruiser strikes motorist

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Case in Point

February 26, 2013

Police cruiser strikes motorist 

The plaintiff, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in the crash, sued the township, alleging it was liable for the officer’s negligent operation of the cruiser. Suit claimed that the officer backed the vehicle out of his driveway without keeping a proper lookout for traffic. The jury awarded $1.6 million. Mennare v. Charter Township of Lansing.

Carl Mennare, 43, was driving on a four-lane highway when police officer Brett Ramsden suddenly backed out of his driveway and struck the right front corner of Mennare’s subcompact car.

Mennare was thrown about inside the car and suffered a traumatic brain injury. He now suffers from constant, severe headaches; sensitivity to light and sound; and confusion and difficulty concentrating. His confusion and pain intensify as his medication wears off, and he has difficulty remembering words or following more than one or two verbal instructions at a time. He also suffered problems with balance, which resolved about six months after the incident, and pain and soreness in his face and neck, which resolved about two months after the incident. His medical bills have been paid by no-fault insurance.

At the time of the collision, Mennare was working on an assembly line earning about $32,800 annually. He is now permanently disabled.

Mennare sued the township, alleging that it was liable for Ramsden’s negligent operation of the cruiser. The plaintiff contended that Ramsden backed out of his driveway without keeping a proper lookout for traffic.

Ramsden countered that he was backing out to pursue a speeding vehicle.

Before trial, the plaintiff made settlement offers of $400,000 and $750,000, which the township summarily rejected, and the case proceeded to trial.

At the close of the evidence, the trial court granted a directed verdict for the plaintiff on the issue of Ramsden’s negligence. The jury then awarded $1.6 million. The verdict may be adjusted to reflect collateral source payments and reduction of damages to present value. The plaintiff’s motion for entry of the verdict is pending.

Citation: Mennare v. Charter Township of Lansing, No. 11-242-NI (Mich., Ingham Co. Cir. Dec. 4, 2012).

Plaintiff counsel: Lawrence P. Nolan, Jessica S. Fox, and Gary G. Villas, all of Eaton Rapids, Mich.


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