KC Firefighter Personally Liable for $32 Million in Fatal Apparatus Crash

A Kansas City firefighter has been ordered to personally pay $32 Million for causing a crash that killed three people last December. Dominic Biscari was driving Pumper 19 that ran a red light, collided with an SUV, struck several parked cars, and came to rest in a building. The passengers in the SUV were killed as was a pedestrian. The building partially collapsed and was destroyed.

Biscari and the city were sued by families of the deceased and the building owner in Jackson County Circuit Court. Biscari did not retain counsel, and agreed to submit his portion of the case to arbitration. The arbitration was assigned to a retired judge, Miles Sweeney. In October, Judge Sweeney found for the plaintiffs in the amount of $32 million.

In accordance with Missouri procedure, the arbitrator’s award was affirmed last week by Judge Jennifer M. Phillips, with the awards being allocated as follows:

Couple in the SUV: Jennifer San Nicolas and Michael Elwood

  • $9 million to San Nicolas’ mother
  • $9 million to Elwood’s parents

Pedestrian: Tammi Knight

  • $11 million Knight’s mother
  • $2 million to Knight’s domestic partner

$1.4 million to owner of the building

The case will now proceed against the city to determine its liability for the incident. At issue will be whether the city was on notice of Biscari’s reckless driving, which according to this article may be problematic.

Here is earlier coverage of the suit including video news coverage.

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.
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