Saturday, April 20, 2013

Dover pays $75,000 to settle suit for negligence in police chase that resulted in death of 23-year-old motorcyclist

On March 2, 2012, the Town of Dover (Morris County) agreed to pay $75,000 to the mother of a twenty-three year old man who was killed in a motor vehicle collision when he was allegedly fleeting police.

In her suit, Kara Seitz, mother of the late Alan J. Seitz, said that on August 14, 2007, her son, who was operating a motorcycle, was leading police from various municipalities on a high speed chase.  She claims that Dover Police Officer Michael Pier, after hearing about the chase on his radio, disregarded a stop sign and "drove his motor vehicle directly in front of [Seitz's] motorcycle causing the death of [Seitz]."

Also named in the suit was Dover Police Chief Harold Valentine.

The case is captioned Seitz v. Dover Police Officer Michael Pier et al, New Jersey Superior Court, Docket No. MRS-L-2441-09 and Seitz's attorney was George T. Daggett of Sparta.  Case documents are on-line here

None of Seitz's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $75,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Dover or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Dover or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Seitz $75,000 than take the matter to trial. Perhaps the defendants' decision to settle was done to save further legal expense and the costs of trying what were in fact exaggerated or meritless claims. Or, perhaps the claims were true and the defendants wanted to avoid being embarrassed at trial. This is the problem when cases settle before trial--it is impossible to know the truth of what really happened.