City settles civil suits, one involving deaths in fire truck accident

Baltimore's spending board is scheduled to vote Wednesday to settle three claims made against the city, including a civil suit stemming from a 2007 accident in which a fire truck collided with a car, leaving three people dead.

Relatives of victims in the 2007 crash — a husband, wife and a friend — will split $40,000 if the Board of Estimates signs off on the settlement. Their attorney said that is the cap set for motor tort claims involving police and firefighters responding to emergencies.


The city Solicitor's Office also wants to settle two other claims totaling $300,000, according to the agenda for Wednesday's Board of Estimate's meeting. Both cases involved traffic accidents with city vehicles. The civil liability caps on those cases are $300,000 each because they did not involve emergency vehicles.

City Solicitor George A. Nilson said his office has agreed to pay Paris Butler $200,000. He said Butler was standing at a bus stop when she was hit by a car driven by a city health department worker who had either passed out or fallen asleep behind the wheel.


Nilson said Butler suffered extensive injuries and incurred "very significant medical expenses." He said the city settled with Butler before she filed a lawsuit. The date and location of the accident were not immediately available.

In the other case, Nilson said he agreed to pay $100,000 to Timothy O. Morgan, who sued the city last year. The solicitor said that case also involved a traffic accident but he had no further details.

Morgan's attorney, Timothy A. Dachille, declined to comment.

The accident involving the fire truck occurred early on a Sunday in December at Park Heights Avenue and Clarks Lane. It was deemed the worst accident involving Baltimore firefighters and civilians in 50 years.

Killed in the crash were Iryna Petrov, 49, her husband, Mikhail Petrov, 35, and their friend, Igor Saub, 24.

No criminal charges were filed, and police at the time said the driver of Truck 27 was responding to a report of smoke in a hallway of an apartment building, which turned out to be from a burning pot of food. Truck 27 was the third of four emergency vehicles responding to the call and heading north on Park Heights Avenue.

The fire truck, with its lights and siren on, sped through the intersection at 47 mph. The Nissan Murano that the truck struck was traveling at 23 mph, according to police at the time. Emergency vehicles are required to stop at all red lights and stop signs, even when responding to emergencies, to ensure that intersections are clear of traffic.

City and state laws set high immunity for police and firefighters responding to emergency calls, and Maryland does not recognize gross negligence in such cases, said the attorney representing the estate of those killed.


"It's a tragedy," the lawyer, Alex Poberesky, said of the accident. He said family members have received additional money from their insurance company, but he would not disclose the amount.