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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

City settles for $2.5 million

Spokane City Council must approve the offer

 The city of Spokane and its insurance company would pay the family of a boy hit by a city dump truck $2.5 million under a settlement that still must be approved by the Spokane City Council.

City Attorney Nancy Isserlis said the city, its insurance company, Everest National Insurance, and attorneys representing the family agreed to the deal during mediation on Feb. 7.

The case was set for trial in Spokane County Superior Court this month.

Zach Donovan was a third-grader at Hutton Elementary School when he was struck by a dump truck that was part of a city street sweeping crew working near D Street and North Loop Avenue, in the Finch Arboretum area, on Aug. 27, 2008. Police reports indicate that Donovan was on his scooter behind the dump truck at the time.

The city will pay about $614,000 of the settlement. Everest will pay the rest. Under the city’s insurance policy, Spokane pays the first $1 million of a settlement, but that includes the cost the city already has incurred to defend itself. 

Attorneys representing the boy and his parents submitted a claim for $5 million to the city, including more than $500,000 in medical bills.

Zach spent six weeks recovering at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and about a month at St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute. Among the injuries he suffered were pelvic fractures, internal bleeding and a severe kidney laceration, according to court documents. 

The truck was driven by Charles W. Hanshaw, who remains employed by the city. Attorneys representing the family argued that Hanshaw, who was backing up the truck at the time of the incident, violated traffic laws, in part, by not ensuring the road was clear before backing up the truck. But a judge ruled that Hanshaw had the right-of-way. Police records indicate that Hanshaw was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. 

The City Council will consider the settlement on March 11.

Ross White, who represented Zach’s father, Daniel Donovan, declined to comment on the case.

Attempts to reach attorneys representing Zach’s interest or working for Zach’s mother, Erica Rae Simons, were unsuccessful Friday.