BY COUNCILOR STOVER:
RESOLVED, that the proper city officials are authorized to pay to Jeanne and William Dolter and their attorney, John C. Dunlap, $32,000 in full and final settlement of a claim which arose out of an accident occurring on April 21, 2001; payment to be made from the Self-Insurance Fund 610-036-1652-5841.
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE: On April 21, 2001, Jeanne and William Dolter were traveling in their vehicle in the alley behind their Morgan Park home. The vehicle became stuck. When Jeanne Dolter exited the vehicle, the pavement beneath her collapsed and she was swept into a large sinkhole. William Dolter, with the assistance of neighbors, was able to extract Mrs. Dolter from the hole. The incident caused injury to Mrs. Dolter’s right knee requiring surgery in the fall of 2001. The Dolters commenced litigation March 28, 2003. In their complaint the Dolters alleged that the sinkhole was caused by a failure of the public utilities located in alley and that the city was negligent in its maintenance of the utility. Dolters further alleged that the city had notice of the condition and failed to correct the condition or provide a warning. The city denied that the sinkhole was caused by a utility failure or by negligent maintenance and the city did not have notice of the sinkhole.
The city’s liability is based upon the duties and obligations imposed upon it to maintain the public utilities. The city brought a motion for summary judgment asserting statutory immunity defenses. This court denied the motion concluding that fact issues prevented resolution of the immunity defenses on summary judgment. Trial in this matter was scheduled to begin on June 6, 2006. The parties engaged in mediation as ordered by the court and agreed to a settlement of $32,000.
The city of Duluth has investigated this claim and verified the damages and expenses. The civil division of the city attorney’s office analyzed the city’s loss exposure and costs of continuing litigation. The city attorney’s office recommends this settlement.