Ionia County pays deputy accident victim $198,000

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 5:36 pm on Friday, August 23, 2013

IONIA — The Ionia County Board of Commissioners has agreed to pay a Portland woman almost $200,000 after she alleged a sheriff’s deputy seriously injured her in a car accident almost three years ago.

Teresa Ann Smith filed a complaint in 8th Judicial Circuit Court against Ionia County and Ionia County Sheriff’s Deputy Justin Canan on July 24, 2012.

According to Smith, she was driving westbound on Riverside Drive near Somers Road in Ionia Township around 5:23 p.m. Sept. 18, 2010.

Canan was allegedly driving a 2008 Chevrolet while on duty with the sheriff’s office when he crossed the center line of the road and struck Smith’s vehicle.

According to the Ionia Sentinel-Standard, a sheriff’s officer was responding to a 911 call of a woman screaming for help when the officer lost control of his cruiser and struck a truck containing a woman and two children. According to the Sentinel-Standard, Canan had been on the job for about six months when the accident occurred.

Smith said she was seriously injured in the accident, including a spinal injury which required surgery, as well as other injuries to her head, neck, shoulders, arms, knees, back, chest and other parts of her body, both externally and internally. She said the injuries caused her great pain and suffering.

Smith said she also suffered traumatic shock and injury to her nervous system, causing severe mental and emotional anguish.

Smith alleged Canan and Ionia County were guilty of negligence and misconduct due to Canan driving at an excessive rate of speed, failing to keep a reasonable lookout for other people and vehicles, failing to have the vehicle equipped with proper brakes and/or failing to apply the brakes in time, failing to drive with due care and caution, failing to take all possible precautions to avoid any collision with other vehicles and failing to make and/or renew observations of the conditions of traffic on the highway.

Smith also alleged Canan was negligent in failing to obey and drive in conformity with the Common Law and the Motor Vehicle Code of the state of Michigan and ordinances of Ionia Township.

In her complaint, Smith requested a financial judgment to whatever amount she was found to be entitled, plus restitution for court costs, attorney fees and interest from the date she filed the complaint on July 24, 2012.

On July 9, the Ionia County Board of Commissioners went into closed session to discuss Smith’s lawsuit. Commissioners then came out of closed session and voted to pay Smith in the amount of $198,000 inclusive of costs, interest and attorney fees. All parties also agreed to a dismissal of Smith’s lawsuit in return for the financial agreement.

Ionia County Sheriff Dale Miller did not return a message seeking comment for this story.

Smith could not be reached for comment.

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