City to pay $250,000

City Council members voted Thursday to settle for $250,000 a lawsuit brought by two men who were struck in 2006 by an Austin police officer’s car while they were changing a flat tire.

The money will be used to cover medical expenses and be divided between Marvin Clayborne and Stephan Center, both of whom were injured when officer David Martin’s car hit their car, city officials said.

Clayborne, who suffered a leg injury and had to have a hip replaced, will get $150,000, said Anne Morgan, chief of litigation for the city. Center had a broken ankle and a head injury and will get $100,000 for his injuries and lost wages.

“I think it is a fair settlement,” Morgan said. “It was an accident, and we are sorry that it happened.”

According to a lawsuit that the men filed in April 2008, Clayborne had gone to help his son change a flat tire on a ramp connecting Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and U.S. 183.

Clayborne and Center, his nephew, remained with the car while his son went to get a spare tire from a nearby apartment.

The men stood beside the rear of the car, which had its hazard lights flashing, and waved their arms to get the attention of passing motorists, the lawsuit said.

“Most of the vehicles slowed down as they approached,” the suit said.
The suit said that Martin drove at a high rate of speed without a siren and without his emergency lights, and that Clayborne and Center were unable to get his attention. Martin was distracted by the on-board computer in his patrol car and failed to show adequate attention, according to the suit.

Martin was not disciplined in the incident.

Morgan said that such six-figure settlements are rare but that, the city rarely has such claims against it in personal injury cases.

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