Punitive damages not allowed in high speed case against Alton PD

By Steve Gonzalez | Jul 31, 2005

Madison County Circuit Judge Nicholas Byron ruled in favor of the Alton Police Department July 22 when he granted its motion to strike punitive damages from the complaint of Delphya A. Coleman. She filed a six-count $300,000 suit April 7 seeking actual and punitive damages stemming from a high-speed chase on May 24, 2004.

Coleman claims that Alton Police were in pursuit of Dennis Lackey--whose speed reached 80 miles per hour on city streets--on May 24, 2004. Lackey ran a red light, striking the Toyota Camry in which Coleman and Cedric Cox were passengers. The accident took place at Route 3 and Route 143 in Wood River.

According to the complaint, Coleman sustained a closed fracture of her pubis, fracture of the spine, spinal cord lesions, pulmonary insufficiency, severe injuries to internal organs, open wounds on her head and scalp, fractures of the vertebrae, diaphragmatic rupture, sacral fracture, lumbar spine transverse process fractures, and large pneumo-thorax effusions.

Coleman also claims she lacerated her spleen, has bilateral hematomas, suffered a puncture would to her right hip, left respiratory failure, required a tracheotomy, became dependent on a respirator, and had a feeding tube inserted.

She states she sustained enormous medical expenses in treating her injuries, and will have to spend even more in the future, including rehabilitation costs. The suit claims she has been unable to work since the day of the accident.

Byron also consolidated her case with another against the police department over the very same pursuit.

Cedric Cox filed suit March 8 in Madison County Circuit Court seeking more than $400,000 for injuries and lost wages.

He claims that Alton Police knew at the outset of the pursuit that Lackey, who was driving a 2000 GMC Yukon, was not licensed, but began and continued a high speed chase over roadways anyway.

According to the complaint, Cox sustained a fracture to the left clavicle, the left second, third, and fourth rib. He also had a portion of his stomach surgically removed.

In addition to becoming dependent on a ventilator, Cox claims he also suffered a traumatic diaphragmatic rupture and damage to his internal organs.

Circuit Judge Daniel Stack will handle the consolidated cases.

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