Family of IMPD crash victim reaches settlement agreement
A $1.55 million settlement has been reached in a lawsuit filed against the city.
The money will go to the estate of Eric Wells, the motorcyclist killed when IMPD Officer David Bisard crashed into a group of bikers nearly two years ago.
Now, two months before the anniversary of Eric Wells death, his widow and parents are settling their civil case against the City of Indianapolis and Bisard.
Bisard crashed his police cruiser into Wells and a group of motorcyclists August 6, 2010, as he raced to back-up a call he was not dispatched to handle. Disputed blood tests revealed Bisard was more than twice the legal limit drunk.
The Wells family will collect $1.55 million in a settlement.
"It gives my family, all of us, the opportunity to put it somewhat behind us," said Eric Wells father, Aaron, who called the development a first step toward justice.
In the three-page settlement, the city denies liability and offered no admission of guilt. But Wells' attorneys say the $1.55 million amount and a Federal Court ruling put the city on notice.
"This could have gone on for another two or three years and these people are not ever going to stand up and ever admit that it was their fault," said Wells, explaining why they decided to settle and end the case.
"That amount says a lot. It is a significant amount, particularly in light of the law in Indiana," Linda Pence, the Wells family attorney, told 13 Investigates.
Under the state's wrongful death claims, payouts are capped at $700,000. But Pence says the Federal Civil Rights Violation has no limits.
The city lost a federal district court ruling that allowed the Wells family to seek damages. The judge ruled they only had to prove Bisard's behavior was an act of "deliberate indifference" and not "intent to injure."
"The city argued that this was just a simple negligence, no intent to injure, thus the Civil Rights claim must be dismissed. That was their argument. Our Federal Judge (William) Lawrence did not agree," explained Pence.
"It fully told the city, the police department, David Bisard, you're in the wrong," said Aaron Wells.
Officer Bisard's attorney, John Kautzman, says he is waiting to speak with Bisard before he issues a comment.
The Wells family will donate a portion of the $1.55 million to the Eric Wells Memorial Foundation and the Dayspring Center in Indianapolis to carry out Eric's passion for assisting underprivileged children.
The settlement must be approved by a Marion County Probate Court in the coming days. If approved, the city will pay out the first million dollars by July 2 and the remaining $550,000 will be paid before January 15 of next year.
The criminal case against officer Bisard will proceed.