The dismissal of a $10 million lawsuit over the death of a Brigham Young University student in a 1987 traffic accident has prompted new lawsuits against the city, the Police Department and an officer.
The U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver on April 3 upheld earlier lower-court dismissals of a suit filed by the parents and a friend of Chad Weaver, who died in the accident. City Attorney Gary Gregerson said it was thrown out because attorneys for James and Brenda Weaver and Cynthia Rippstein failed to file a minimum $300 bond, which plaintiffs in any lawsuit are required to file to cover minimum litigation costs.Judges in Provo's 4th District Court and U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City in 1988 and 1989, respectively, dismissed the case on the same grounds. It was never tried on its merits.
Both parties have now filed new suits - the Weavers on April 29 and Rippstein on April 30. The Weavers, of Spokane, Wash., are seeking "adequate" compensation for their losses, including burial and funeral expenses. Rippstein, Cupertino, Calif., is asking for $2.5 million in damages and medical expenses. Rippstein was critically injured while riding in Chad Weaver's vehicle.
The Weavers and Rippstein claimed the city, the police and officer Phillip A. Webber were negligent regarding a March 28, 1987, accident that killed Weaver.
Weaver's pickup was hit broadside by a pickup driven by Jerry Meissner at the intersection of University Avenue and 100 South about 1 a.m. Webber was pursuing Meissner at a high rate of speed on suspicion of drunken driving just prior to the collision. Meissner was later convicted of manslaugher.
Both suits allege Webber acted "negligently, willfully, recklessly and unlawfully" in the pursuit of Meissner's truck.
Provo Police Chief Swen Nielsen said the chase lasted for three blocks or about 12 seconds. The officer broke off the chase when Meissner ran a red light at 100 South and University, he said.
Nielsen said the lawsuits are a "perplexing thing to us. We were trying to get this guy off the road."
Rippstein's suit also names Meissner and his brother, Jaime R. Meissner, a passenger in the truck, as defendants.