The city has filed a lawsuit against a Massachusetts-based insurance company for alleged breach of contract for its alleged non-responsiveness to a damage claim filed by the family of a man killed in a motorcycle accident that involved two auxiliary police officers, according to a federal lawsuit filed late last month.
Paterson filed the lawsuit against Star Insurance Company and its parent company Meadowbrook Insurance Group on October 27th, 2016. The city’s complaint states the insurance company is “required to provide indemnification and defense to the City of Paterson” in the case filed by the family of Randolph “Fid” Waddy.
City law director Domenick Stampone on Monday morning said the lawsuit is seeking the firm to provide coverage for the incident. He said the intent is to get the firm to pay legal fees and cover a final settlement or award in the case.
Stampone said the case is still in the court.
The family is seeking damages for bodily injury and wrongful death of Waddy who was killed in a motorcycle crash on April 17th, 2012 when officers Juan Martinez and Jonathan Lopez were attempting to pull him over.
The city tendered coverage to both Martinez and Lopez, according to the complaint.
“To date, the city has not received a formal decision from Meadowbrook to indicate whether or not they will be providing coverage for the Paterson defendants,” reads the court complaint.
Meadowbrook Insurance Group did not respond to a request for comment for this story.
The city had a policy with the company from January 1st, 2012 to January 1st, 2013 that covered $5,000,000 per incident and $10,000,000 in the aggregate, according to the city’s complaint. The city cites its insurance policy text: “We will pay all sums an ‘insured’ legally must pay as damages because of ‘bodily injury’ or ‘property damage’ to which this insurance applies, caused by an “accident” and resulting from the ownership, maintenance or use of a covered auto.”
The policy defines “bodily injury” as bodily injury, sickness, or disease sustained by a person including death, according to the city’s claim.
Both officers involved in the fatal accident have pleaded guilty to various charges. Martinez received a five-year prison sentence for conspiracy to commit official misconduct last year while Lopez pleaded guilty to hindering prosecution receiving three-year probation.
When asked about the two men’s conviction and whether it will weaken the city’s claim against the insurance firm, Stampone said: “It’s never something that’s good.” But he noted the conviction of the two men is a separate matter that has little bearing on the city’s claim against the insurance company.
“The city did nothing wrong,” said Stampone.