Red Light Collision Caused By Responding Volunteer Results in $4.6 Million Settlement

A New Jersey woman who suffered catastrophic injures when her vehicle was struck by a car driven by a volunteer firefighter responding to an alarm will receive a settlement of $4.6 million. Melinda Baker suffered fourteen fractures to her legs, neck, arms and ribs requiring multiple surgeries. The January 26, 2018 accident left her confined to a wheelchair.

The firefighter, Richard Campbell of the Wenonah Volunteer Fire Company, was responding to an alarm when the accident occurred. Campbell was reportedly speeding when he ran a red light. He was cited for careless driving, failure to obey a traffic signal and creating a risk of a motor vehicle crash.

Baker filed suit in Gloucester County Superior Court in October, 2018 naming Campbell, the Wenonah Volunteer Fire Company, the Deptford Fire Department, Deptford Fire Department Battalion 1, Gloucester County Fire Chiefs Association, Oak Valley Fire Company No. 1, and Woodbury Heights Fire Department.

The settlement  was approved by Superior Court Judge Samuel Ragonese who was quoted by the Courier Post as saying the settlement was appropriate given Baker’s “catastrophic and permanent injuries” and her “likely need for treatment and care into the future.” Under the terms of the settlement, Campbell will pay $100,000 and the Wenonah Volunteer Fire Company will pay $4.5 million.

More on the story from the Courier Post.

More from The Patch.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

Check Also

Fatal Collision Prompts Suit in Mississippi

The family of a man killed in a collision with a responding fire chief in Mississippi last year, has filed suit against the county fire council and the chief. Kenneth Fitzgerald was killed when the vehicle he was riding in collided with a Ford F-350 owned by the Jones County Volunteer Fire Department Council and operated by Fire Chief Anthony Pitts of the Soso Volunteer Fire Department.

Cleveland Lieutenants Allege Disparate Impact Bias on Captain’s Exam

Twenty-four fire lieutenants with the Cleveland Fire Department are suing the city alleging that the results of a recent captain’s exam produced such a statistical imbalance that it violates federal anti-discrimination guidelines. While such an claim, referred to as disparate impact discrimination, is hardly precedent setting, what is unusual is that white firefighters are making it.