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Council approves 2 settlements connected to deadly Westport pumper crash

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Posted at 5:09 PM, Jun 08, 2023

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City, Missouri, City Council approved two ordinances, including a financial settlement, on Thursday related to a deadly KCFD pumper-truck crash in December 2021.

The financial settlement pays the families of the three victims killed in the crash — Michael Elwood, Tami Knight and Jennifer San Nicolas — $1.5 million, while the second ordinance resolves claims related to the city’s duties under a collective bargaining agreement with the KCFD union to provide legal representation for the pumper-truck driver, Dominic Biscari.

The city previously reached a settlement with Alexander Llera, the boyfriend of Knight. She was getting into Llera’s car, which was destroyed during the crash, when she was swept up as the vehicles left the roadway and crashed into the former Riot Room building, which partially collapsed.

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 driving through the intersection at Westport Road.

Elwood and San Nicolas, who were in the SUV, and Knight, who was getting into her boyfriend's car along a nearby sidewalk were killed in the crash.

The driver of the KCFD pumper truck involved in the crash, 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 alleged the 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.”

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.