A state panel agreed today to pay $1.3 million to settle federal court litigation against Nevada stemming from a four-fatality wreck caused in February 2006 by a Highway Patrol trooper speeding home for dinner.
The payment was authorized by the state Board of Examiners, chaired by Gov. Jim Gibbons, to avoid the risk of a U.S. District Court jury award of up to $5 million as a result of the wreck that killed four Mexican immigrants and badly injured a pregnant teen.
Stan Miller, claims manager for the state attorney general, reported to the board that the settlement resolves a lawsuit that alleged negligence and civil rights violations. The settlement follows a related one for $150,000 authorized in November by the board.
The U.S. District Court lawsuit filed by the surviving victim of the wreck, Cecilia Lopez Cruz, and by family members of the other victims sought at least $23.8 million in damages from the state, the Nevada Highway Patrol, NHP administrators and former trooper Joshua Corcran.
Authorities who investigated the accident said Corcran was headed home for dinner at 113 mph and not on an emergency call when his patrol cruiser slammed into the rear of a Cadillac traveling 52 mph on Interstate 15, just south of Las Vegas. The speed limit was 65 mph.
Corcran pleaded guilty to five counts of felony reckless driving and was sentenced in August 2006 to two to 12 years in prison.
All the victims were from a town in the Mexican state of Chiapas and were living and working in the St. George, Utah, area.