Settlement talks’ failure led to Palace Transit trialThe city of Mitchell was wise to go to court and not settle with a Kansas couple who sued over a 2009 traffic accident, according to Mayor Lou Sebert.
By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic
The city of Mitchell was wise to go to court and not settle with a Kansas couple who sued over a 2009 traffic accident, according to Mayor Lou Sebert.
“I think we ended up ahead this way,” Sebert said Thursday.
Rex and Mary Russell will receive $57,756, a Davison County jury decided Wednesday. That money will come from the South Dakota Public Assurance Alliance, a statewide risk-pool group.
The city could appeal the decision, but Sebert said he doubts that will happen.
“I think not,” Sebert said.
Mary Russell said the couple and their lawyer, Thomas “T.J.” Von Wald, of Sioux Falls, were engaged in settlement talks with the city and the risk pool for some time before the civil trial was scheduled.
The couple, from Sabetha, Kan., sued over an accident in downtown Mitchell. They were struck by a Palace Transit bus as they were walking in a crosswalk on June 18, 2009. They were taken to Avera Queen of Peace Hospital and then sought further medical attention after they returned home.
At some point, the couple and the city started to discuss a settlement. Talks went on for several months, according to both sides. Mary Russell said they could not agree on a figure and decided to go to court. Sebert confirmed that.
“I don’t know the details,” he said. “I knew there were talks taking place.” Sebert said the risk pool and its lawyers did the negotiating for the city, but he and city officials were kept informed. Von Wald said the two sides came close during the negotiations but could not reach an agreement. Sebert said the city is sued fairly often, but it rarely results in a court case or a large settlement.