Records: Queen Creek pays more than $141K in out-of-court settlements over last five years

Thirteen times in the last five years vehicle owners have received compensation for a popped tire damaged in the Town of Queen Creek.

Five were from potholes and five from loose water-main covers, according to a spreadsheet of 2014-18 out-of-court settlements received from a public-records request.

“The town is liable when it is aware or should have been aware of the hazard. With increased road construction activity comes increased risk of debris in the roadway,” according to Assistant Town Manager Bruce Gardner.

“The water main covers are 6 inches and may pop out if hit in a certain way. The town is in the process of replacing our water-main covers with the kind that lock,” he said.

The following popped-tires settlements are by claim date, settlement date, amount paid, reason for the claim and the Town of Queen Creek department:

  • June 6, 2014, June 13, 2014; $115.60 to Michael Russell; popped tire due to loose water main cover (utilities).
  • June 11, 2015, June 18, 2015; $88.60 to Marina Wanis, popped tire due to pothole (public works).
  • Nov. 18, 2015, Dec. 3,2015; $311.35 to Mark Pratt; popped tire due to pothole (public works).
  • Jan. 7, 2016, Jan. 21, 2016; $291 to Tanner Hansen; popped tire due to pothole (public works).
  • Aug. 15, 2016, Aug. 18, 2016; $894 to Justin Bradley; popped tires and damaged rims due to road damage (public works)
  • June 12, 2017, June 26, 2017; $695.31 to Pedro Soto; popped tire and damaged rims due to loose water main cover (utilities).
  • Nov. 29, 2017, Dec. 7, 2017; $19.37 to Ellen Stein; popped tire due to pothole (public works).
  • Dec, 12, 2017, Dec. 21, 2017; $87.66 to Tamara Shaleen; popped tire due to loose water main cover (utilities).
  • Dec. 15, 2017, Dec. 28, 2017; $65.67 to Mike Fuller; popped tire due to loose water main cover (utilities).
  • March 7, 2018, March 15, 2018; $103.53 to Mari Rodriquez; popped tire due to town event ballast cover being loose (public works).
  • April 23, 2018, May 10, 2018; $1,000 to Antonio Horrison; popped tires due to road damage (public works).
  • Nov. 15, 2018, Nov. 29, 2018; $119.27 to Dawn Upton; popped tire due to pothole (public works).
  • Nov. 14, 2018, Nov. 29, 2018; $991.95 to Valerie Burgett; popped tires due to loose water main cover (utilities).

A search for records

A public-records request sought the out-of-court settlements for the years 2014-18 by claimant, department, claim date, settlement date, amount paid and the reason for the claim. The request was e-mailed Jan. 21 to the Town of Queen Creek and a spreadsheet-formatted PDF was received on Jan. 24.

The Town of Queen Creek is part of an insurance pool with 75 other municipalities through the Arizona Municipal Risk and Retention Pool, Constance Halonen-Wilson, the town’s public information officer, said in an e-mail.

“As a result, settlements for property and injury, we have a $10,000 deductible and the insurance covers the settlement over that amount. For vehicle damages, we have a $500 deductible,” she said.

The cost of the town’s liability insurance for the last five years, according to Assistant Town Manager Gardner, is:

  • 2015: $345,721.50
  • 2016: $391,531.39
  • 2017: $440,605.58
  • 2018: $485,928.28
  • 2019: $368,533.00

“It is not one line item in the budget, but in applicable department budgets as part of supplies and services. The liability insurance also covers all town properties and vehicles,” Mr. Gardner said.

Out-of-court settlements

There were 36 settlements made in 2014-18, according to the document provided by the Town of Queen Creek, for a total of $141,569.51, according to an Excel “autosum” calculation of the provided information.

The highest settlement amount was $55,000, listed under “general” for the department, for someone hit by a vehicle in an unmarked crosswalk.

“Claimant alleges she was hit by a vehicle while crossing a town street due to the crosswalk being unmarked,” is the description for the June 25, 2015, claim by Margarita Torres, which was settled Sept. 29, 2016.

That was also the only claim listed that stated a person was injured.

There was one where a dog was injured: A utilities department manhole cover was open and a dog fell in, according to a Jan. 16, 2018, claim by Patrick Erickson that was settled on April 17, 2018, for $1,200.

The second-highest settlement was for $30,000 to Jesus Quintero for flood damage due to water being turned on prior to a home being occupied, listed under utilities department. The claim was made Aug. 20, 2018, and settled Nov. 12, 2018.

The lowest amount for 2014-18 was $39 for a “Splash Pad incident,” listed under the recreation department, according to the document. The Splash Pad is at 22407 S Ellsworth Road.

Sara Beth Towner filed a claim on July 25, 2014, which was settled Sept. 20, 2016.

“In 2014, a user experienced an allergic reaction. The town settled to pay for the cost of the medication to treat the reaction,” Assistant Town Manager Gardner said.

Vehicles damaged

Town vehicles, include a street sweeper, were listed as causing damage to vehicles in the following settlements, listed by claim date, settlement date, amount paid, claimant, the reason for the claim and which department it fell under:

  • Feb. 8, 2014, March 15, 2014; $1,138.01 to Robert Geng; town vehicle damaged claimant’s vehicle (fire).
  • Sept. 22, 2014, Dec. 31, 2014; $1,943.37 to Thomas Crittenden; town vehicle damaged claimant’s vehicle (public works).
  • Sept. 23, 2015, Jan. 26, 2016; $5,071.66 to Mitchell Sutton; town vehicle damaged claimant’s vehicle (utilities).
  • March 4, 2016, March 24, 2016; $643.20 to Derick Webster; vehicle damage due to loose water main cover (utilities).
  • June 10, 2015, July 30, 2016; $2,225.73 to Jessica Merkley; town vehicle damaged claimant’s vehicle (utilities).
  • April 3, 2017, April 13, 2017; $225.00 to Amy Kelly; street Sweeper caused damage to vehicle (public works).
  • April 28, 2017, May 4, 2017; $1,200.00 to Michael Donovan; vehicle damage due to town vehicle dropping load (public works).
  • May 5, 2017, May 25, 2017; $889.64 to Nick Evans; vehicle damage due to town equipment in road (public works).
  • April 19, 2017, June 15, 2017; $991.58 to David Means; town vehicle damaged claimant’s vehicle (public works).
  • May 23, 2017, Aug. 3, 2017; $2,945.47 to Pamela Middlekauff; vehicle damage due to loose water main cover (utilities).
  • April 10, 2017, Aug. 25, 2017; $11,225.21 to Lisa Devere; town vehicle damaged claimant’s vehicle (utilities).
  • Sept. 20, 2017, Sept. 28, 2017; $659.11 to Kalani Tiger; vehicle damage caused by town vehicle in parking lot (public works)
  • April 4, 2018, April 19, 2018; $6,608.62 to Joel Sandoval; town vehicle damaged claimant’s vehicle (recreation).
  • April 10, 2018, Oct. 1, 2018; $2,377.32 to Amalia Garcia; town vehicle damaged claimant’s vehicle.
  • Nov. 13, 2018, Dec. 13, 2018; $2,216.37 to Wade Ross; vehicle damage due to town vehicle dropping load (public works).
  • Oct. 30, 2018, Dec. 18, 2018; $5,718.29 to Jeidy Ruiz; vehicle damage due to iron gate closing by gust of wind (public works).

Other settlements

The remaining settlements, listed by claim date, settlement date, amount paid, claimant, the reason for the claim and which department it fell under, were:

  • Feb. 13, 2015, July 29, 2015; $663.02 to Michelle McKillip; power went out on refrigerator where claimant was holding food for an event at Horseshoe Park and Equestrian Centre, 20464 E. Riggs Road (general).
  • Sept. 26, 2017, Oct. 12, 2017; $96 to Stanley White; flooding of yard due to water break (utilities).
  • Aug. 1, 2018, Oct. 15, 2018; $3,709.60 to Justin and Amber Pennell; flood damage to claimant’s property due to a valve on a water well (utilities).
  • Oct. 30, 2018, Dec. 18, 2018; $5,718.29 to Jeidy Ruiz; vehicle damage due to iron gate closing by gust of wind (public works).

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