City's lawsuit settled

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By Calen McKinney

A local woman's case against the City of Campbellsville for damages she alleges she suffered when she was involved in a collision with a police officer has been settled and dismissed at a cost to the City of a little more than $20,000.

The suit was filed in Taylor Circuit Court last February by Lebanon attorney Joseph H. Mattingly III on behalf of Campbellsville resident Gwendolyn Walker.

In Walker's suit, she alleged she was involved in a motor vehicle collision with Campbellsville Police Detective Sgt. Patricia Thompson on June 15, 2004. The City denied any wrongdoing.

On Thursday, a sealed settlement was filed in Taylor Circuit Court. However, because the City is a government agency and is funded by taxpayers, the News-Journal believes that information should be made public.

Following the procedures set out by the Kentucky Open Records laws, a letter requesting details of the settlement was sent to attorney Spencer Noe of Lexington who represented the City. On Friday, Noe agreed to release the details of the settlement.

According to the information provided by Noe, Walker settled her claim with the City for $22,500.

Taylor Circuit Court Judge Doughlas M. George signed the order last week dismissing Walker's claims with prejudice.

According to Black's law dictionary, when a claim is dismissed with prejudice, the plaintiff is not allowed to prosecute the claim again.

On Friday, Mattingly said Walker's case has been settled. However, he said, the terms of the settlement are being kept confidential. Mattingly said the City of Campbellsville insisted that Walker sign a confidentiality agreement.

The settlement agreement states that Walker agrees the City of Campbellsville is not responsible for any of Walker's other claims for medical expenses, except for a current personal injury protection claim made to Grange Mutual Casualty Co. in the amount of $5,331.63.

That claim, according to the agreement, will be settled separately between Grange Mutual Casualty Co. and the City's insurance company.

The settlement states that each party is to pay its own attorney's fees and the payment is not to be considered an admission of liability.

The settlement also includes a confidentiality clause that states the settlement information is not to be discussed with any third parties.

On Friday, Noe declined to comment on the case except to say, "It's just a lawsuit [that was] settled."

According to the suit, Thompson was accused of driving her vehicle carelessly and negligently, ultimately causing her vehicle to strike Walker's.

Because Thompson is employed by the City of Campbellsville, the suit alleged, the City was liable for her negligence during working hours.

The suit alleged Walker suffered physical injuries as a result of the collision and underwent more than $1,000 worth of medical treatment. Walker's suit also alleged she will continue to seek medical care for her injuries.

Walker's suit stated she also suffered severe physical and emotional pain and disfigurement. Walker alleged her injuries are permanent and have caused her to lose wages, impaired her ability to earn money and have put her at risk for additional injuries. The injuries have also, the suit alleged, diminished Walker's ability to enjoy life.

In its answer to the allegations, the City of Campbellsville denied all of Walker's allegations and stated that her injuries were brought on or caused by her own or someone else's negligence.

Last March, Noe said, "It's an automobile accident case. That's about all there is to it, and we'll see how it comes out in court."

Mattingly said last March that the case involved a collision that occurred when Thompson was turning from Broadway onto Terri Street. Mattingly said a vehicle had waived Thompson to turn. He said Walker was in the outside lane and apparently Thompson didn't see her vehicle and pulled out in front of her. Mattingly said Walker suffered a back and neck injury.

"We think that clearly the officer was at fault and the cause of the accident," he said at that time.

Walker's complaint sought compensatory damages, a trial by jury and court costs.

Thompson did not return a phone call from the News-Journal office to comment. Campbellsville Police Chief Dennis Benningfield declined to comment. Campbellsville Mayor Brenda Allen referred comment to City Attorney John Bertram who said he was not involved in the case.

- Staff Writer Calen McKinney can be reached at 465-8111 Ext. 235 or by e-mail at reporter@cknj.com.