By Brent Curtis
Christopher Sullivan and the family of a Mendon woman he is charged with running down in a fatal hit-and-run crash last year have agreed to a $260,000 settlement that would end a civil wrongful death lawsuit.
However, the former Rutland municipal attorney would pay less than 5 percent of the settlement amount, said the attorney representing the family of Jane Outslay.
The 71-year-old Mendon woman died April 10, 2013, after being struck by a car while crossing Strongs Avenue in downtown Rutland.
The car that struck her didn’t stop, but more than 12 hours later, Sullivan, 54, identified himself as the driver of the vehicle that struck and killed Outslay.
Criminal charges of drunken driving in a fatal crash and leaving the scene of a fatal crash are pending against Sullivan who pleaded innocent to the offenses.
The civil lawsuit, filed at the start of the year, sought unspecified amounts of financial damages from Sullivan for multiple breaches of duty.
The civil case was proceeding toward trial until Friday when the Outslays’ attorney Matthew Anderson filed a petition in Rutland civil court asking a judge to approve the $260,000 settlement. Sullivan’s attorney, John Paul Faignant, notified the court Monday that he had no objection to the settlement request.
Anderson said Monday that Sullivan would only pay $10,000 toward the settlement amount with another $25,000 coming from Sullivan’s insurance company — representing the maximum amount of his liability coverage under his insurance policy.
The remaining $225,000 would come from the Outslays’ own insurance as an under-insured motorist claim, Anderson said.
“(Sullivan’s) liability coverage was the statutory minimum required by law,” Anderson said.
The $10,000 amount that Sullivan will be responsible for represents the most that Anderson said the family would be able to collect based on Sullivan’s assets.
While the former municipal attorney earned $112,000 during his last year with the city in 2007, according to the city report for that year, Anderson said most of Sullivan’s assets were tied up in retirement funds and home equity shared with his wife, which is exempt from legal claims.
“The representations we received showed he does not have any assets we can reach,” Anderson said. “Knowing his sophistication as an attorney about what is exempt I decided there wasn’t going to be much we were going to be able to get at.”
And with the prospect of a protracted legal battle, Anderson said he and the family decided the settlement was the best option.
“Most personal injury lawyers will tell you the act of trying to collect money from an individual is more costly than what you get from an individual,” he said.
The settlement also specifies that Sullivan makes no admission to either criminal or civil liability for Outslay’s death.
“The family is as happy as they can be with the outcome. It will never bring Jane back and we feel it’s inadequate. To the extent that any amount of money would be adequate, this amount is inadequate.”
Jane Outslay’s husband, Merrill Outslay — who will receive all of the settlement — declined to comment Monday.
Faignant could not be reached for comment Monday.