Mo. city to pay $1.3M+ to families of fire truck crash victims
Each family will receive funds from Kansas City plus money from the private auto insurance provider for the firefighter who was driving
By Andrea Klick
The Kansas City Star
Kansas City will pay more than $1.3 million to family members of victims killed when a fire truck crashed into a vehicle and a building in Westport in December 2021, according to court documents filed Wednesday.
According to the settlement, each family will receive $459,893 from the city plus an additional $80,000 from Farmers Insurance, the private auto insurance provider for Dominic Biscari, the Kansas City firefighter who drove the truck on Dec. 15, 2021.
The Kansas City Fire Department and the city declined to comment on the settlement and cited a pending investigation into the incident.
With lights and sirens flashing, the Pumper 15 driven by Biscari was speeding when it ran a red light and entered the intersection of Westport Road and Broadway Boulevard and struck a Honda CRV that night. The force of the crash propelled the vehicles northwest, causing them to hit a pedestrian before slamming into a building.
Jennifer San Nicolas and Michael Elwood, who were in the Honda, and Tami Knight, the pedestrian, were killed. Knight’s boyfriend Alexander Llera was also injured. San Nicolas and Elwood worked together at Ragazza Food & Wine, and Knight was a data analyst with Kansas City Public Schools.
After the crash, the victims’ families, Llera and the owners of the building filed lawsuits against the city and Biscari, which also alleged that he was driving negligently and too fast.
In November, Kansas City’s City Council approved the transfer of $1.8 million from its general fund to help pay for lawsuits.
Earlier that month, Judge Jennifer M. Phillips approved a $32 million arbitration award against Biscari. That included $9 million to Elwood’s parents, $11 million to Knight’s mother, $9 million to San Nicolas’ mother and $2 million to Llera. It also included $1.4 million to the company that owns the destroyed building.
Retired Judge Miles Sweeney, who oversaw arbitration proceedings in October, found Biscari’s driving to be “dangerous and reckless.” A medic had warned the department about Biscari’s driving months before the crash.
A lawsuit filed in November that lists as plaintiffs the victims’ families, Biscari, Llera, the building’s owner and the fire department union claimed the city owes $32.4 million to the families and building owners after withdrawing legal representation for Biscari.
He was originally provided legal representation by the city, but it was later withdrawn. The fire department’s union, International Association of Firefighters Local 42, could not find a previous case in which the city refused or withdrew legal representation for another fire department employee, the lawsuit said.
A case management conference is scheduled for Feb. 28.