Family of man killed in IGH crash awarded more than $2 million

After more than a year in court, the family of a Cottage Grove man killed in a 2016 Inver Grove Heights crash has been awarded a settlement worth more than $2 million in a wrongful death lawsuit filed against the other driver.

“It was a hard-fought battle for 18 months, and well worth it for a family who lost a wonderful father and husband,” said Michael Dwyer, one of the attorneys representing James Lind’s widow, Lois, in a press release.

Lind died from injuries following the March 30, 2016, crash, after he was hit by another driver, Donna Harrington, while making a left turn. Criminal charges were never brought against Harrington.


The crash

According to the civil complaint against Harrington, Lind was traveling southbound on Broderick Boulevard at the intersection of Concord Boulevard on March 30. He entered the intersection to turn left onto eastbound Concord when he had the right of way on a green light. 

The complaint argues that opposing traffic on northbound Broderick, which is the Highway 52 off ramp, was far enough away for him to safely make a left-hand turn if traffic was operating at a lawful and safe speed.

The complaint states that Harrington, a Mendota Heights resident, was exiting northbound Highway 52 onto the off ramp, which becomes Broderick. According to the complaint, she was traveling at a fast speed and “failed to maintain a proper lookout.”

Lind and another driver made left turns directly in front of her plain view, the complaint says, while Harrington entered the intersection at an unlawful and excessive speed, failing to reduce her speed.

Harrington hit Lind’s pickup truck on its passenger front wheel, causing Lind to be ejected from the vehicle. He suffered from head injuries, from which he later died.

According to a crash reconstruction report, video obtained from a nearby Walmart showed Harrington entering the intersection on a green light, and Lind attempted to make the turn while northbound traffic had a displayed green light. 

The report says that based on this video, Lind was legally required to yield the right of way to Harrington.

Ken Drevnick, a former state trooper and current accident reconstructionist, testified on behalf of Lind’s family. In his report, he said that if Harrington had been slowing for current traffic and road conditions, it would have taken her vehicle longer to reach the intersection, at which point Lind would have cleared the intersection and her path.

Dwyer and Conor Tobin, another lawyer representing Lois, said in the press release that Harrington’s attorney argued she had the right of way since she was driving under 65 miles per hour, the posted limit on Highway 52. 

However, they countered with a Minnesota statute that requires drivers to drive at a speed reasonable for conditions. 

Said Tobin, “fortunately, the jury saw through it and agreed it’s just not reasonable to speed into an intersection at 51 mph without ever even tapping your brakes.”

According to the complaint, Harrington appeared dazed and confused immediately following the accident. An investigating officer inquired about her medical condition, and Harrington said she was taking medication for a pre-Alzheimer’s condition.

Analysis of the accident by the Minnesota State Patrol showed that Harrington’s speed at the time of the impact was 49 to 59 miles per hour — the posted speed limit on Broderick immediately north of the accident site is 35 miles per hour.

Harrington failed to respond to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety for a review of her ability to safely operate a motor vehicle and her driver’s license had been canceled. 

The complaint argues that Harrington’s negligence was the direct and primary cause of the March 30 accident and Lind’s death.

A jury found May 3 that while Lind was somewhat responsible for the crash, Harrington was 70 percent responsible. 

The jury awarded Lind’s widow just over $3 million, including $155,000 for past healthcare expenses and over $2.8 million for the loss of Lind’s financial contribution, time together, companionship, guidance, advice, comfort and assistance. 

A settlement offer of $2.15 million was made to satisfy the judgment in the case, in exchange for a release as well as a dismissal of the case with prejudice. 


— Hannah Burlingame

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