Pedestrians hit by Naperville police car get almost $670,000 in settlement
Naperville has quietly paid nearly $670,000 to settle lawsuits from two pedestrians who were struck by the squad car of a Naperville police sergeant in 2008.
The settlements of $643,750 to Carolyn Marszalik and her husband Stephen Sokolowski and $25,000 to Steve Ellis were approved Tuesday as part of the city council's consent agenda with no public discussion.
Marszalik, Sokolowski and Ellis were pedestrians crossing Aurora Avenue from south to north at Main Street in downtown Naperville on Oct. 19, 2008, when two of them -- Marszalik and her brother-in-law Ellis -- were hit by a squad car driven by then-Sgt. Ken Keating, according to a lawsuit filed in 2009 in DuPage County.
Keating was responding to an emergency call heading south on Main Street when the lawsuit accuses him of "suddenly" making a left turn onto eastbound Aurora Avenue and striking the pedestrians.
Marszalik suffered the most serious injuries in the crash, said the attorney for the pedestrians, Steven A. Berman of Anesi, Ozmon, Rodin, Novak & Kohen Ltd. She fractured her left femur and required surgery to place a rod in the bone to stabilize it, Berman said.
Ellis also was hit, but Berman said his injuries were relatively minor. Sokolowski's claim against the city comes because he is married to Marszalik and had to help care for her after her injuries, the attorney said.
Keating was not injured in the crash. Afterward, the city's Board of Fire and Police Commissioners suspended Keating without pay. Then-police Chief David Dial suggested Keating be terminated, saying his "unsafe" behavior on the day of the crash demonstrated poor judgment and "was not in compliance with our rules and conditions of employment with the city."
But Keating now is employed by the city as a police officer, spokeswoman Linda LaCloche said Wednesday. Keating was first hired at the Naperville Police Department in 1994.
The settlement payments approved for the pedestrians came seven years and one day after the crash occurred.
The agreement took so long to reach because the city filed multiple petitions claiming Keating, as a police officer responding to an emergency call, was immune from being responsible for negligence or misconduct, Berman said.
"It was a long, hard-fought case," Berman said. "Ultimately the defense claimed immunity for the actions of its agent, the officer. We defeated those motions. As a result, we came to a settlement which we felt was fair."