NORMAN, Okla. – On Tuesday, a Cleveland County judge ruled against the City of Norman in a civil lawsuit regarding an officer-involved accident four years ago.
The city now has to pay Curtis Rogers the maximum allowed judgment of $125,000.
Rogers was hit by Officer Ricky Hanna on October 31, 2015, and Rogers’s lawyer says the officer was going almost 20 miles an hour over the speed limit when the crash happened.
“What we were able to show at trial is that if the officer was running 40 miles an hour,” Rogers’ attorney Noble McIntyre told News 4. “My client clears the intersection by five car lengths and there’s no crash.”
McIntyre says his client tried to avoid going to trial and offered the city a $50,000 settlement, but not only didn’t the city council reject the offer, its counteroffer was nothing.
“The biggest disappointment in this whole thing is the Norman city council members. They apparently don’t listen to anybody,” McIntyre said. “If they get council telling them you should consider resolving this case, they don’t care.”
The city council’s decision to not settle cost Norman an extra $75,000.
Norman’s Assistant City Attorney Rick Knighton says the officer may have been speeding, but he had the green light and the right of way.
Knighton says Rogers also wasn’t wearing his seat belt which led to his injuries being worse than they would have been.
“He had a green light, and unfortunately for some reason that we may never know, Mr. Rogers attempted a left turn in front of him,” Knighton told News 4. “At a point in time that there really wasn’t anything the officer could do to avoid that accident.”
He says the council looked at all of these factors before deciding to defect the settlement and go to trial.
“Because this case is a little bit unusual than your regular run of the mill left-handed turn accident cases,” Knighton told News 4. “Council thought the better way to go about getting this resolved was to take it and allow the judge or jury to make that determination.”
The original verdict was for $1 million but then reduced to $500,000 because the judge decided both Rogers and the officer were at fault.
The amount was then lowered to $125,000 because that is the maximum allowed in a civil suit under state law.
The City of Norman has not decided if it will appeal the decision.