KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A new lawsuit is trying to make the city of Kansas City pay the $32.4 million payment resulting from an arbitration agreement in a fatal crash involving a fire truck on Dec. 15, 2021.
The lawsuit has placed the families of the three people who died in the crash and the person who was injured on the same side of the suit as the Local 42 Firefighters Union and Dominic Biscari, the firefighter operating the truck in the crash. They claim the city is responsible for the payment.
The lawsuit, submitted to the courts Friday, claims the city breached the Collective Bargaining Agreement between Kansas City and Local 42 when an associate city attorney withdrew from representing Biscari on June 18, according to court documents.
“The city regularly provides legal counsel for employees of the fire department, who have been named as defendants in civil lawsuits,” reads a grievance sent to the city in on June 27. “In fact, after careful review, the union has not found a single case in which the city has failed to provide or withdrawn representation of a fire department employee.”
A few months later, Biscari, the victim’s families, and the property owner whose building was damaged in the crash entered into an arbitration agreement awarding $32.4 million to the families and the property owner.
On Friday, the new lawsuit shows Biscari transferred 90% of claims he would have against the city to the plaintiffs, allowing the plaintiffs to pursue the case.
A city and fire department spokesperson would only tell FOX4 that, “The ordinance authorizes the city attorney to resolve the matters consistent with state law.”
The lawsuit was submitted one day after the Kansas City Council voted to authorize $1,839,572 to fund resolutions in four cases related to the December 2021 crash.
That amount is exactly four times as large as the sovereign immunity cap in Missouri, which limits how much can be awarded in damages when someone is injured related to a city performing a municipal function.
Legal experts say that suggests the city could prepare to offer a settlement for the maximum allowed under the sovereign immunity cap for the three victim’s families and property owner involved in the lawsuits.
The lawsuit points out that since this new lawsuit is over a breach of contract and not tort law, sovereign immunity caps would not apply.
The victim’s families still have an ongoing civil case against Kansas City related to the crash.