OFFICER RECEIVES A $750,000 SETTLEMENT FROM THE CITY OF NEW YORK AFTER SUSTAINING INJURIES IN A ONE-CAR RMP ACCIDENT
An Officer assigned to a Queens South command received a settlement of $750,000 from the City of New York after suffering serious injuries in a one-car unmarked RMP accident. The Officer was the recorder responding with his partner to shots fired and a possible injured victim. The operator proceeded eastbound on Jamaica Avenue at a high rate of speed when an unknown van traveling in the same eastbound direction attempted to make a left hand turn at an approaching intersection. The operator, in an attempt to avoid the collision with the van, swerved left and crashed into a light post. There were differing accounts as to which lane the RMP was traveling prior to the accident. The operator claimed he was traveling eastbound in the left hand lane on Jamaica Avenue. The recorder testified the operator was traveling eastbound in the westbound lanes directly prior to the van cutting off the RMP and the RMP crashing into the lamp post. The unidentified driver of the white van did not remain at the scene. DCD sued the City of New York pursuant to GML §205-e claiming the operator of the RMP acted “recklessly” in proceeding in the wrong lane of traffic at a high rate of speed in violation of Vehicle and Traffic Law §§ 1144(b), 1104(e) and 1104(b)(2). The Officer sustained a torn rotator cuff which required two surgeries. The Officer was subsequently awarded a ¾ line-of-duty disability pension. The City of New York filed a summary judgment motion requesting the Court dismiss the Officer’s claim that his partner’s “recklessness” caused the accident and his injuries. The City lawyers argued that the operator’s actions in traveling at a high rate of speed in the opposite lane of traffic was not reckless under the legal definition. Joseph L. Decolator, on behalf of the Officer argued that there was a genuine issue of fact that only a jury could decide as to whether the driver’s actions under an “emergency” situation was considered “reckless”. Mr. Decolator prevailed on the motion and the case remained on the trial calendar and ultimately settled for $750,000 at a pre-trial conference.