Las Vegas police to appeal verdict in fatal crash


Las Vegas police will appeal a $2.2 million verdict a District Court jury awarded to the family of a man killed in 2007 after he collided with a patrol sedan.

On Friday evening, the jury rendered the verdict to the family of Raymond Yeghiazarian after attorney Marc Saggese asked for $250,000.

But Las Vegas police, who were unavailable for comment on Friday, issued a brief statement Saturday saying state law limits awards in such incidents to $250,000, and even that amount might be more than the department will have to pay.

"The (department) anticipates that the final award could be less than $250,000 as the judge must convert this verdict into a judgment," the department wrote in its email.

While the statement's headline said the department would appeal, no mention of that legal maneuver is mentioned in the body of the statement.

Instead, police only say the maximum judgment is $250,000 "in cases such as these."

The state has a sovereign immunity law that protects government agencies and employees from larger judgments; the unpopular law was enacted decades ago under efforts to reform tort laws. The law does not apply to cases in which police violate a person's civil rights.

Yeghiazarian, 47, was stopped on Sahara Avenue and Fort Apache Road waiting to make a left turn on a green light at about 11 p.m. July 4, 2007. He turned into the path of officer Jared Wicks, who was traveling without lights and siren between 60 and 75 mph in the 45 mph zone. The officer did not slow down before the collision.

Wicks, who said he was pursuing a white van, suffered minor injuries.

Yeghiazarian remained hospitalized in a coma until his death July 26, 2007.

Yeghiazarian's family sought a settlement but the police department refused. The family's attorney asked the jury for $250,000. But the jury, which found Yeghiazarian was 25 percent responsible for the crash, insisted on the $2.2 million award.

Neither the white van nor its driver was ever located.

Contact Doug McMurdo at dmcmurdo@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5512.

 

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