Settlement Reached Between City of Milford, Connecticut and Family of Teen Killed in Crash with Police Car

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7066_1274_02262012.jpgThe parties in a lawsuit arising from a 2009 car accident have filed an application for a compromise claim with the Probate Court in Milford, Connecticut. The family of David Serwin filed state and federal lawsuits against the city of Milford, its police department, and two police officers. The proposed settlement of $2.5 million resolves all claims. Another lawsuit, filed by the family of Ashlie Krakowski, remains pending. Serwin, who was nineteen years old when he died in the accident, did not leave a will. Any settlement of the lawsuit requires the approval of the probate judge.

The accident occurred on Route 1 in Orange at about 3:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 13, 2009. Milford police officer Jason Anderson had responded to a brawl at a club in West Haven. As Anderson was going home, his police vehicle broadsided the Mazda driven by Serwin, in which Krakowski was a passenger. Anderson’s cruiser was reportedly traveling 94 miles per hour, but he did not have his siren or emergency lights on.

Serwin and Krakowski both died in the crash. Anderson lost his job with the police department in December 2009 because of the incident. He is also facing charges of second-degree manslaughter, which are reportedly currently in plea negotiations.

Serwin’s parents filed wrongful death suits in both state and federal court against Anderson, the police department, the city, and another Milford police officer. Krakowski’s father and grandmother also sued in state court. Serwin’s family had requested over 2,000 hours of video footage from Milford police cruisers, hoping to demonstrate a pattern of excessive speeding and reckless driving by Milford police. The police department responded to his Freedom of Information Act request with a mere twenty-five hours of footage. A commission determined that the police department had complied as best it could with the family’s request, as it had accidentally erased most of its dash-cam videos.

The lawsuits brought because of this accident involve claims for negligence and wrongful death. They must also overcome the state’s immunity from civil lawsuits, known as sovereign immunity or, in some cases, governmental immunity. A negligence case normally requires proof that a defendant breached a duty of care that caused injury to the plaintiff. In a wrongful death suit, a representative of a person who dies due to a defendant’s negligence can bring suit for the damages and losses resulting from the person’s death.