KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A move by the Kansas City City Council Thursday night is giving us new insight into how the city could be trying to settle lawsuits from the fatal fire truck crash on December 15, 2021.

The Council authorized the City Attorney to use $1,839,572 to fund resolutions for four lawsuits stemming from the crash.

That amount is exactly four times the sovereign immunity cap in Missouri, limiting what cities have to pay in civil lawsuits when they can be sued in the first place.

“In general, you cannot sue a government entity or governmental employee whose acting on behalf of the government,” said DePasquale Moore founding partner Jason Moore.

He says the centuries-old legal theory can make it hard to win lawsuits against cities, or even bring them in the first place.

But it’s not absolute.

“In modern times, we’ve decided that there’s exceptions to that immunity,” said Wichman Law Firm’s Kevin Wichman.

One main exemption is when a city employee hurts someone with a motor vehicle, like when the KCFD pumper truck an SUV in Westport, killing the two people inside and a pedestrian on the sidewalk.

Even if a judge agrees that case defeats sovereign immunity, the caps still drastically limit potential damages.

“If you can get past sovereign immunity and make the claim, there are limits that are prescribed by statue of what the maximum amount of money you can get when you do sue the government,” Moore said.

Right now, that limit for an individual person is $459,893 each. That amount, multiplied by four, is exactly $1,839,572, which is exactly the amount Kansas City’s City Council authorized this week.

Legal experts say that’s the most a victim could hope for, despite a much larger award being part of an arbitration agreement between the victim’s families and the pumper operator in October.

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