Manchester Directors Settle Two Legal Claims Against Town
MANCHESTER, Feb 06, 2013 (The Hartford Courant - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
The board of directors decided Tuesday night to settle two legal claims against the town.
The votes were unanimous and directors did not comment.
One case involved a fatal accident, which directors decided to settle for $75,000. The other centered on a large tree that fell on a house. The board settled that case for $45,000.
The fatal accident happened on Jan. 22, 2002, when Kristie Wright of Manchester stopped for gasoline at the DB Mart on Hartford Road. As Wright pumped gas into her Geo Tracker, the driver of a Ford Escort went through a stop sign at Pine Street, crossed Hartford Road and slammed into Wright's car and the gas pumps, causing an explosion.
Wright, 24, was thrown against the front wall of the gas station and died of a broken neck, authorities said. Her estate filed a public nuisance claim that was based on the town's approval of an exception to zoning rules that permitted installation of gas pumps too close to the road and without barriers, Assistant Town Attorney John F. Sullivan wrote in recent memo to the town's general manager.
A judge struck down the claim in 2007, and the plaintiffs filed an appeal of the ruling in favor of the town. Lawyers held a conference recently and the plaintiffs made "what they call a bottom line demand of $75,000 to settle the case," Sullivan wrote.
"Given a full value of the case of several million dollars, the demand reflects an understanding by the plaintiffs that their claim against the town is a difficult one," Sullivan wrote.
The other case involved a tree on town land that fell on a North Elm Street home on April 6, 2009. The homeowners' insurance provider, Cambridge Mutual Fire Insurance Co., paid for repairs and sought reimbursement from the town. The total bill was "in excess of $112,847.98," according to a lawsuit against the town that Cambridge filed in 2010.
The company contended that town officials were negligent and careless because the tree was not inspected and removed before falling on the home. In interviews at the time of the accident, the homeowners said they first noticed the tree leaning in November 2008, and the lean became more severe over the next several months.
The board also heard a presentation from representatives of the The School Modernization and Reinvestment Team Revisited, or SMARTR. As a result of the committee's recommendations, the town is exploring the feasibility and costs of renovating the old Cheney Building on School Street, which would be combined with Bennet Academy to make a new fifth- and sixth-grade school. Town officials also are looking at complete renovations of Washington and Robertson elementary schools.
Town General Manager Scott Shanley said hard figures will not be available until architectural firms complete feasibility studies, but "it would not be unrealistic" he said, to put the total cost of the projects in the $40 to $60 million range.
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