A Racine man injured in a car crash caused by a Racine city employee driving a salt truck in 2009 will likely receive a $227,000 settlement from the city after it lost an appeal filed with the Wisconsin Court of Appeals in October.

The Finance and Personnel Committee on Monday voted to recommend that the City pay James Billups $227,000 to settle a civil lawsuit filed against the city in 2011.

The city appealed Billups’ claim after a jury awarded him damages in April when a city employee crashed a city-owned salt into the truck he was driving after the employee ran a red light. The jury awarded Billups $151,000 for medical expenses, $44,000 in lost wages, $7,500 for past pain and suffering, and $15,000 for future pain and suffering. After the jury decision, the city asked for a new trial because the jury’s decision “was not consistent” and Racine County Circuit Judge Emily Mueller denied the motion.

Racine city attorney Scott Letteney told the Journal Times that the attorney’s cost to fight the lawsuit will cost taxpayers an extra $60,000, according to a story written last week.

The city’s attorneys argued that the award for medical expenses “could not be reconciled with its much smaller award for past pain and suffering,” but the Wisconsin Court of Appeals judges sided with the jury’s decision because those amounts “need not bear any mathematic relation.” Further, the appeals court pointed out that pain and suffering award is a “subjective determination,” according to court documents

The Appeals Court document called the city’s appeal “not a run-of-the-mill appeal” because the city suggested that the jury “improperly awarded medical expenses attributable solely to Billup’s pre-existing conditions.” But the court disagreed saying that the jury was told not to award damages for the pre-existing conditions unless they felt his condition “was aggravated by the injuries” from the crash.

The Common Council is expected to consider the Finance and Personnel Committee’s recommendation at its Common Council meeting on Tuesday.


Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.