SKOWHEGAN — A court settlement has been reached in a lawsuit against the town of Skowhegan and others involved in a 2012 accident in which a 14-year-old boy was injured after the Jeep in which he was a passenger slammed into the back of a town-operated street sweeper.

The settlement, filed Jan. 5 in Somerset County Superior Court, grants a total of $150,000 from three insurance companies to Sean Poirier on behalf of his juvenile son, Jacob Poirier, in the crash on Middle Road on March 20, 2012. Some of the money will be paid to cover attorneys’ fees, according to court documents. Some will be placed in escrow for Jacob Poirier, and some will fund an annuity for periodic payments to Jacob over time.

Also named as defendants in the civil action were Duane Whittemore, an employee of the town highway department who was operating the sweeper; Howard P. Fairfield LLC, which leased the sweeper to the town; and Jacob’s older brother, Patrick, who was 17 at the time of the crash and the driver of the 1999 Jeep Cherokee.

The court settlement breaks down as follows:

— Dairyland Insurance Co., representing Patrick Poirier — $100,000.

— Trident insurance, representing the town of Skowhegan and Duane Whittemore — $40,000.

— Continental Casuality Co., representing H.P Fairfield — $10,000.

Patrick Poirier was driving south on Middle Road about 2:30 p.m. that day when he encountered “a big cloud of dust.” Patrick Poirier slowed to 35 mph and attempted to go around the street sweeper and crashed into the driver-side corner of the vehicle. Poirier told police that he couldn’t see the road ahead of him, according to a state crash report.

Jacob was removed from the Jeep and taken to a local hospital. He later was flown by LifeFlight helicopter to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor with a broken right thigh bone, according to the documents. His medical bills amounted to about $50,000, according to court records.

Patrick Poirier suffered cuts and bruises. Whittemore was not injured.

The crash report noted that “Patrick said he wasn’t sure what was causing the dust” and that if he had stopped and waited for the dust to clear rather than drive through it, the crash would have been avoided. There were no skid marks from the Jeep, and Whittemore reported that he had all of the lights on in the sweeper.

Whittemore had periodically been spraying water, but the dust was thick, he said, according to a Morning Sentinel report on the accident.

The water tank on the Allianz Johnston MX450 sweeper, owned by equipment specialist HP Fairfield, was crushed by the impact, but the steel frame appeared not to be damaged, Road Commissioner Greg Dore said. The only fluid it lost was water, which spread across the pavement.

After a couple attempts to start it, a worker was able to drive the sweeper away from the scene. The Jeep, registered to Jennifer Poirier, Jacob’s and Patrick’s mother, had to be towed.

The town rents a street sweeper for two weeks every year. It is insured through the equipment rental policy, Dore said.

The court settlement is described in documents as a compromise of disputed claims and cross claims.

Two of the lawyers involved in the lawsuit declined to comment Monday. A third attorney in the case was out of the office and could not be reached.

Skowhegan Town Manager Christine Almand acknowledged the settlement in the case, but also declined to comment. None of the Poiriers could be reached for comment.

 

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