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Man Hurt in Crash With Seattle Cruiser to Get $650K

May 25--A Seattle man who was seriously injured when his pickup collided with a Seattle police officer's patrol car on an icy morning in February 2009 has settled his lawsuit against the city for $650,000.

Donald A. Meyer, 51, was driving in the Sodo neighborhood at 5:20 a.m. when Officer John Welch lost control of his car and struck Meyer's pickup head-on, according to the lawsuit filed in King County Superior Court.

Welch, 26, was driving at the posted speed of 40 mph in the northbound lanes of the Fourth Avenue South bridge when his vehicle slipped on a patch of ice, according to the police report on the accident. Welch was not heading to an emergency call, authorities said.

Meyer suffered injuries to his chest, neck, back and abdomen in the Feb. 11, 2009, collision, according to the lawsuit. He has since returned to work at a Sodo bottle-making factory but still has headaches and other ailments, said his lawyer, Kevin Coluccio.

In his lawsuit against the city, Meyer sought more than $1 million in damages. The suit was settled late last month.

Senior Assistant City Attorney Robin Collins said in a March 2010 court filing that the "City of Seattle concedes it is liable for any damages or injuries" that Welch sustained in the crash.

On Wednesday, Jean Boler, chief of the Civil Division at the City Attorney's Office, said the settlement "avoids the risk of trial and fairly compensates the injured party."

Seattle police spokesman Sgt. Sean Whitcomb said he couldn't comment on whether Welch went through retraining as a result of the accident. He said Welch still works at the department.

Coluccio said Meyer worked "really hard" to recover from his injuries. Meyer could not be reached to comment.

"The money will go to pay for his past and future medical expenses, as well as his pain and suffering," he said.

Coluccio said he's pleased the city took responsibility for the crash.

"I'm hoping that the city of Seattle addresses, through training and policies, any actions that are important for the public safety," Coluccio said. "My understanding is that in taking responsibility that the city of Seattle was looking into the actions of their officer in making sure this type of incident didn't happen again."

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or jensullivan@seattletimes.com

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