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Kansas City inches closer to settlement in 2 civil lawsuits tied to deadly KCFD crash in Westport

KCFD pumper ran red light, killed 3 people in December 2021
westport crash
Posted at 2:47 PM, May 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-09 15:47:19-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Two civil lawsuits tied to the deadly crash involving a Kansas City, Missouri, Fire Department pumper truck in December 2021 in Westport could soon be settled.

Combined, the proposed settlements will cost the city nearly $1.8 million.

A KCFD pumper truck responded to a canceled fire call sped through a red light northbound on Broadway Boulevard at the intersection with Westport Road, hitting an SUV near and driving it into a neaby building that partially collapsed.

Three people died — Michael Elwood and Jennifer San Nicolas, who were in the SUV, and Tami Knight, who was getting into her boyfriend's car along a nearby sidewalk and was struck when the vehicles left the road.

The former Riot Room building partially collapsed due to the crash.

The driver of the KCFD pumper truck involved in the crash, Dominic Biscari, as well as the fire union and the families of the three victims teamed up in November 2022 seeking more than $32 million from the city in a lawsuit.

The $32-million amount stems from the recommendation from an arbitrator. A Jackson County District Court Judge later confirmed the arbitration award.

The lawsuit claimed Biscari initially had legal representation by the city, “but in the weeks that followed, the City reversed its position and withdraw as counsel for Biscari.”

The lawsuit also alleges the city previously provided legal counsel to employees, including firefighters, and “created a pattern and practice.”

In response, IAFF Local 42, the fire union that represents KCFD, filed a grievance against the city. It claimed failing to provide Biscari with an attorney violated the collective bargaining agreement between the city and union.

The other civil lawsuit was filed by Knight's boyfriend, who sued the city, KCFD and Biscari.

In the lawsuit, the boyfriend claims he was “nearly struck himself” and “jumped out of the way at the last possible second.” He and Knight were about to get into his car when the crash happened and she was killed.

The boyfriend alleges in the lawsuit that he suffered “severe emotional distress and property damage.”

During a Kansas City Special Committee for Legal Review meeting on Tuesday, committee members spent nearly 40 minutes in closed session to talk about the proposed ordinances, which is allowed under state law when discussing legal matters.

Committee members voted to move two ordinances for a settlement out of committee.

The proposed ordinances said:

Approving and authorizing settlement of a lawsuit entitled [name redacted by KSHB] v. City of Kansas City, Missouri, et al., Case No. 2216-CV03221 in the amount of $281,500.00.

Approving and authorizing partial, monetary settlement of a lawsuit entitled Russell Elwood, et al. v. City of Kansas City, Missouri, Case No. 2216-CV26061 in the amount of $1,500,000.00.

The full KCMO City Council could take up the settlements at the May 18 meeting.

A judge approved a $1.6 million settlement for the wrongful-death claims related to the Westport crash in January. A majority of the money came from the city.