Kenneth Krakowski v. City of Milford, et al.: The estate of a teenager killed in a highly publicized crash involving a Milford police officer who was racing a colleague in the middle of the night will receive $4 million in a settlement with the city of Milford and the officer.
On June 13, 2009, two students from Gateway Community College in New Haven — Ashlie Krakowski and David Servin — both 19 and both from Orange, were in Krakowski’s vehicle at 2:13 a.m., returning from a house party in Milford.
Investigators believe Servin was the driver and that he made a left turn onto Dogwood Lane from Route 1 in Orange. As he did, a Milford police cruiser heading west and driven by Officer Jason Anderson, 37, sped into the intersection and smashed into the teens’ vehicle at about 95 mph, according to court documents.
Both Krakowski and Servin were killed on impact.
Lawyers say that Anderson and another officer, Richard Pisani, were racing their police cruisers side-by-side on Route 1 through West Haven, Orange and Milford. The alleged racing took them through a “populous commercial area” of bars, restaurants and stores where the posted speed limit was 40 mph, according to court documents. The two officers were on their way back to the Milford police station.
A police videotape of the crash taken from Pisani’s cruiser revealed that Anderson didn’t even honk his horn at the teens’ vehicle before making impact.
Krakowski’s father, Kenneth, sued the city of Milford and Anderson on behalf of his daughter’s estate. Krakowski was represented by attorney John Wynne Jr., of Buckley & Wynne in New Haven.
“It was a sad senseless tragedy that affected a lot of people,” said Wynne. “The police officer driving that fast on Route 1 makes no sense. No lights or siren, he was not responding to a call. [The officers] were on their way back from West Haven from assisting another [police] department in another town.”
Following an investigation, Anderson was arrested in the fall of 2009 on manslaughter and reckless driving charges. A month after his arrest, he was fired from his job as a police officer. His former colleague, Pisani, was suspended without pay for 30 days but was not a named defendant in Krakowski’s civil suit.
Anderson’s criminal trial concluded last month and he was found not guilty of two counts of second-degree manslaughter. He was, however, convicted of charges that included negligent homicide with a motor vehicle and reckless driving. However, the judge threw out the negligent homicide verdict, leaving just reckless driving and misconduct with a motor vehicle. Anderson still faces up to 10 years in prison, though with some confusion surrounding the jury’s verdict, his lawyer plans to appeal.
Superior Court Judge Denise Markle dismissed the negligent homicide charge against the former officer because the six-member criminal jury reportedly answered “yes” when asked if the teenage driver’s actions contributed to the crash. Servin, according to defense lawyers in both the criminal and civil cases, was legally intoxicated with a 0.14 blood alcohol content. Servin was under the legal drinking age and investigators also found marijuana in the vehicle.
Hugh Keefe, Anderson’s criminal lawyer, said Servin did not stop for the blinking red light at the intersection prior to attempting his turn in Anderson’s path.
Wynne disagrees with those placing blame on the accident with Servin.
“Even if you were stone cold sober sitting at that light, anyone would’ve made that turn with Anderson’s car so far away,” said Wynne. “You’re not going to perceive that car’s going 90 mph. You’re not. [Servin and Krakowski] were almost completely across the road. Not only was [Anderson] going that fast, he was passing on the right. Once David Servin started his turn, it was three seconds-plus before he was hit.”
Servin’s estate, this past March, settled a wrongful death civil lawsuit against the city of Milford, Anderson and Pisani for $2.5 million.
Attorney James N. Tallberg, of Karsten & Tallberg in West Hartford, said Krakowski’s civil suit was settled on the second full day of mediation with Judge Jonathan E. Silbert. Tallberg represented the city of Milford. Thomas Gerarde, of Howd & Ludorf in Hartford, represented Anderson in the civil suit.
Servin’s estate was also brought into Krakowski’s civil suit as an apportionment defendant. “In a case of this magnitude, anyone with potential liability usually gets brought in,” said Tallberg.
According to the settlement filed in the Milford-Orange Probate Court and approved by Probate Judge Beverly Streit-Kefalas, the city of Milford and Anderson, through their insurance carrier, the Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency, must pay $3.5 million and Servin’s estate, through Allstate Insurance and Progressive Insurance companies, must pay the other $500,000.
“It’s a horrible tragedy made worse by the fact it was recorded on video,” said Tallberg. “No one would have benefited with having a trial in the civil matter and we’re just pleased it has been resolved.”
Wynne also characterized the settlement as a “fair resolution.”
“I think it’s something [the Krakowski family] wanted to put behind them,” said Wynne. “It was a tragedy. A beautiful, young, smart girl who was going to college. She was the only daughter of my client, who was a single parent. This girl’s mother had died a number of years ago, when [the girl] was 6 years old. She lived with her grandmother and father. That was it. The only grandchild [the grandmother] had and the only child my client had. It was senseless.”•