Crime & Courts

City settles with woman, 81, hurt when Wichita-owned truck crashed into family car

The city of Wichita will pay $125,000 to an 81-year-old woman hurt after a city worker ran into her family’s car with a front loader truck in 2015.

Francill Wilson of Wichita in 2017 sued the city and the city worker involved in the collision after the city denied a claim she made for damages related to the July 7, 2015, crash. Wilson’s lawsuit says she was in the front passenger seat of her family’s 2009 Chevy Impala when city employee Rodney Jennings ignored a stop sign while turning right onto South Broadway from East 50th Street South.

The Impala was headed north on Broadway at the time. Jennings was driving west before turning.

The front loader struck the Impala on the passenger side, the force of which threw the car into the truck’s side. The crash totaled the car and hurt Wilson, including causing head, back, spine and shoulder injuries, dizziness, swelling and bruising, the lawsuit says.

Wichita police cited Jennings for inattentive driving and failure to yield, the lawsuit says.

The City Council approved a $125,000 lump sum payment to Wilson on Tuesday. Money for the settlement is available from the city’s self insurance fund, the agenda says. But the city can issue general obligation bonds to pay it if needed, it says.

In a Jan. 30, 2017, letter to the city, Wilson’s attorney demanded $795,000 in damages but said Wilson was willing to explore a “mutually acceptable settlement.”

The city’s law department recommended settling the claim “due to the uncertainty and risk of an adverse judgment at trial,” according to Tuesday’s council agenda. That trial was scheduled for Aug. 12, court records show.

The settlement “does not constitute an admission of liability of the part of the City,” the council agenda says.

Wilson’s attorney, Donald McKinney, said it would lead to the lawsuit’s dismissal.

“My client, Francill Wilson, sustained very serious injuries” including “several fractured vertebrae in her spine,” McKinney said in an emailed statement. “Medical professionals determined the fractures were inoperable due to the risk of permanent paralysis and the advanced age of the victim.

“We decided to settle to avoid continued litigation and the attendant uncertainty, stress, and expense of litigation, as well complications created by Francill’s age, physical condition, and her painful injuries.”

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