KCMO Triple Fatal Apparatus Accident Case Settles But Another Case Looms

Jackson County Circuit Court has approved the settlement of three lawsuits related to the triple-fatal apparatus accident in Kansas City in 2021. The accident involving Pumper 19, and killed Tami Knight, Jennifer San Nicholas and Michael Elwood.

The three suits were filed by the families of the deceased, naming the city and Pumper 19’s driver, Dominic Biscari, as defendants. According to Fox4, the settlement totaled $1.8 million, which is the statutory tort claims cap. However, KSHB41 is reporting the settlement totals $1.6 million with each family receiving $540,000, $460,000 from the city, and $80,000  from Biscari’s insurance.

You may recall that a fourth suit was filed in this case that remains unaffected by the settlement. That suit was filed by Biscari, IAFF Local 42, and the plaintiffs in the three prior lawsuits, after the city withdrew its legal representation for Biscari.

Following the city’s decision to leave Biscari on his own for legal counsel, he agreed to submit his liability to court-overseen arbitration. That resulted in a $32 million award against him and that Jackson County Circuit Court later entered as a judgment. The remaining lawsuit alleged the city breached its agreement with Biscari by denying him legal representation, and deviated from established past practice that required the city to provide firefighters with legal counsel in such cases. Biscari assigned 90% of his claims to the plaintiffs giving them a huge stake in the outcome. Perhaps even more interesting is that breach of contract claims are not subject to tort claims caps that otherwise would have protected the city and taxpayers from responsibility for a large payout. Here is more on that suit.

Update: 1/19/23: Here is a story stating the settlement was only $1.3 Million. And another.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 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, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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