LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A multimillion dollar settlement has been reached in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of a Louisville Metro Police detective who was killed when a Metropolitan Sewer District truck crashed into her police car during a traffic stop.
A lawsuit was filed in January 2019 against the truck driver, 60-year-old Roger Burdette, and MSD by the mother of Detective Deidre Mengedoht.
"Special occasions, every day, the loss is unimaginable. And these monies will never replace that loss," said Ron Hillerich, an attorney for the Mengedoht estate. "Make no doubt about that, but in some way it brings closure to the family and hopefully their wounds can begin to heal."
Police say Burdette was driving the truck on Christmas Eve 2018 when he hit and killed Mengedoht on Interstate 64 in downtown Louisville. He told LMPD he had taken nonnarcotic prescription drugs. He was charged with murder and DUI and fired by MSD about a month later.
An officer had testified that Burdette said he was taking medication for blood pressure, cholesterol and depression as well as an antibiotic. Police said Burdette, who was not injured in the wreck, failed a field sobriety test.
The lawsuit, filed in Jefferson Circuit Court, accuses both Burdette and MSD of being "grossly negligent" and causing Mengedoht's death. The lawsuit also accuses Burdette of negligence by "failing to yield the right-of-way to a police vehicle with its emergency lights fully operational, and in failing to keep a proper lookout ahead, and in failing to change lanes, and in failing to slow down and to keep his vehicle under proper control and not come into contact with Detective Mengedoht's police vehicle and in admitting to police that he had been taking multiple prescription drugs."
MSD is accused in the lawsuit of negligence for failing to "properly employ, supervise, train and retain" Burdette.
The lawsuit asks the court to award damages to Mengedoht's family, including money to pay for her lost wages, medical bills, funeral and burial expenses, in addition to punitive damages.
MSD and an attorney representing Mengedoht's estate confirmed to WDRB News on Monday the nearly $14 million settlement that came after a 14-hour mediation Saturday night.
The deal is $10 million paid to the Mengedoht's estate and $3.65 million for her son, who was 9 years old at the time of the crash, though WDRB News was told he would be getting all of the money.
"The son is the sole beneficiary of all the funds, but hopefully, in some way, this will help him get on with his life," Hillerich said. "But, as I said before, it's the loss that lasts forever. It's simply — money is not going to replace the loss of his mother."
MSD, which is a quasi-public agency, said the settlement will be paid through insurance.
"Mr. Burdette was grossly, grossly negligent in operating that tanker truck on the day of this accident," Hillerich said. "He simply failed to keep a lookout ahead. Whatever his reasons were, he failed to get over and yield the right-of-way to her police car that had her flashing lights on. Simply ran over her. He's a commercial truck driver and in my opinion, wasn't paying attention."
Hillerich said it will take at least 30 to 45 days to get the paperwork, and the settlements still have to be approved.
"So this was a conditional settlement. As soon as the paperwork is done, and I would expect it would take a month to do that, to get it completely resolved. Then an agreed order will be entered dismissing the case against Burdette and MSD," he said.
A third party in the lawsuit came into the case in May 2019 by the family that was pulled over by Mengedoht when the crash happened, claiming the incident caused mental and physical pain both of a temporary and permanent nature. In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs alleged "gross negligence" by Burdette led to a "loss of the plaintiff's ability to lead and enjoy a normal life."
That part of the case was not included in Saturday's settlement and remains ongoing.
In a short statement sent to WDRB News, MSD said "The family of Officer Mengedoht, the community and MSD continue to mourn the loss of Officer Deidre Mengedoht. We continue to offer our condolences."
Burdette's trial date is set for May.
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