1. #1
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    Dalmatian90's Avatar
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    Default Hmmm, not quite fire related

    Emergency services, yes.

    About a settlement in a case were a Middletown, CT police officer was killed when he lost control in a pursuit -- driving a cruiser with three all-season plus one snow tire.

    The service station that changed the tire (well, their insurer) just paid $875k. Sounds like they changed the tire several weeks before as after-hour tow truck call, replacing a flat snow tire with a all season spare, and wrote on the invoice that the cruiser needed to be brought in the next morning for the proper tires to be put on!

    Still makes me shake my head, despite seeing it regularly, when you have organizations so dysfunctional people continue being told to and/or just do operate equipment that's not safe -- come on, no one in the rank & file or management of the PD raised a red flag that having only one snow tire wasn't right?

    It's not just Middletown, this situation could happen in any number of communities and from both rank-and-file apathy or management indifference or both. And it's stupid **** like this that gets people killed for no good reason!

    Dingwall Widow Settles Lawsuit

    Gets $800,000 From Truck-Repair Firm
    March 21, 2005
    By ALAINE GRIFFIN, And JOSH KOVNER Courant Staff Writers MIDDLETOWN -- The widow of a city police officer killed in a high-speed crash five years ago has agreed to accept an $800,000 settlement from the truck-repair business accused of improperly installing a snow tire on the cruiser her husband was driving.

    The offer from the insurance carrier for Jukonski Truck Sales and Services of Middletown was made to compensate Kimberly Dingwall of Haddam for the wrongful death and loss of consortium of her husband, Sgt. George R. Dingwall. Page & Warner Auto Parts, the Middletown business that sold the tires to Jukonski, will pay Kimberly Dingwall an additional $57,500.

    "This represents full and final relief of any claims from the estate," said Middletown Mayor Domenique Thornton. "As difficult as it is to move on from this tragedy, I would hope this [settlement] would assist her and her family in doing so."

    Kim Dingwall's lawsuit against Jukonski Truck Sales was to go to trial later this month, but through mediation with Superior Court Judge Robert L. Holzberg, both sides quietly worked out the settlement and agreed to keep it secret.

    However, details of the settlement are on file in Probate Court in Haddam, the town where Kim Dingwall, 42, resides. According to court records, the entire $857,500 settlement will be split down the middle, with half going to Kim Dingwall and half to her husband's estate, which includes the couple's two children, Alyssa, 18, and Ross, 15.

    Though Kim Dingwall must pay $200,000 worth of death benefits back to the city, the city's insurance carrier has agreed to pay her - without interruption as long as she doesn't remarry - all current and future workers' compensation, totaling about $50,000 annually, records said. The payments are tax-free.

    State law required Kim Dingwall to repay the city at least some of the death benefits if she received a settlement.

    Kim Dingwall's attorney, Herbert J. Shepardson, of Hartford, will receive $176,980.57 from the settlement, the records said.

    Kim Dingwall could not be reached Friday for comment; Shepardson did not return a telephone call.

    George Dingwall, 47, a 19-year veteran of the force, was chasing two burglary suspects when his cruiser spun out of control and crashed on Route 9 in Essex on Jan. 28, 2000.

    The death of Dingwall, a well-liked and popular lawman, rocked the 100-member department. Further shock came when a jury in 2002 acquitted one of the burglary suspects - Bryant Browne, a New Haven man with a lengthy criminal record - of felony murder and manslaughter in Dingwall's death.

    Jurors said prosecutors were unable to prove a direct link between Browne's crimes and Dingwall's death.

    Browne is serving a 32-year prison sentence for leading Dingwall on the chase and attempting to assault another officer involved in the pursuit. Victor Santiago, also of New Haven, is serving 80 months in prison for his role in the house burglary that preceded the chase.

    Testimony in Browne's criminal case showed that the city, during a routine checkup of the cruiser about three weeks before the crash, failed to match all of the tires on Dingwall's car.

    There was a snow tire and three all-season radials on the vehicle, a tire setup that violated a manufacturer's safety bulletin, according to court testimony. Experts at the trial said the mismatched tires could have affected a car's handling and stability at high speeds.

    Middletown police, records reveal, were expected to take the cruiser to Jukonski's to correct the mismatch, but no one from the department ever took the cruiser to the shop.

    In her wrongful death lawsuit, Kim Dingwall alleged the mismatched tires were what caused her husband's death.

    The timing of her lawsuit - filed on the second day of jury deliberations in Bryant's trial - raised eyebrows at the courthouse and police headquarters because it went against prosecutors' arguments that Browne was solely responsible for the crash because he swerved his vehicle into Dingwall's lane.

    Richard Jukonski, whose firm has been the city's tire vendor for 35 years, said Friday that the settlement by his company's insurance carrier caught him completely by surprise.

    "You're kidding. Eight hundred thousand? That's the number? They didn't even notify me," said Jukonski, who has close political ties to city hall and sits on the high school building committee, the panel overseeing construction of the new $79.9 million high school.

    Three weeks before the crash, on Jan. 4, one of the two snow tires on the rear of Dingwall's cruiser was replaced with a radial tire during a road service call performed by a driver/mechanic for Jukonski Trucking.

    Friday, Jukonski maintained that the city was given ample notice to correct the mismatched tires. He pointed to a Jukonski Trucking invoice that read: "MPD to bring unit to [Jukonski Truck Sales and Service] in the a.m. to have [necessary] tires installed."

    "You saw the invoice. It was black and white. How much clearer can you be?" Jukonski said.

    Records also reveal that a haphazard vehicle maintenance system was in place in the police department before Dingwall's death - a system that police union officials said has since been improved and updated with automated records and a better tracking system.

    Police Chief J. Edward Brymer could not be reached Friday for comment.
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  2. #2
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    So, they put a regular tire on as a stopgap and told the PD (in writing) to bring it in the next morning so it could be fixed correctly.

    The PD didn't follow directions and three weeks later there's a crash.

    How is that the service station's fault?

  3. #3
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    Originally posted by EFD840
    So, they put a regular tire on as a stopgap and told the PD (in writing) to bring it in the next morning so it could be fixed correctly.

    The PD didn't follow directions and three weeks later there's a crash.

    How is that the service station's fault?
    I am really thinking the same thing. But on the other hand, if this company is responsible for the tire maintenance for the entire city fleet of squad cars, why don't they have the right parts available on short notice?? Who's to say that squad car wouldn't be used in a chase that night. They should have the right parts, or the car should be pulled out of service.
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    ding ding ding !!!!!!!!!!
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    http://www.firehouse.com/forums/show...60#post1137060post 115

  5. #5
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    Who's to say that squad car wouldn't be used in a chase that night.

    The way I read it, "Here you're fixed, we put the spare on. Now go back and get another cruiser and send this one in in the morning to have a new snow tire mounted." I could be wrong, but that's how I read the news articles.

    Middletown certainly has extra cruisers (the city population is like 50,000).
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