BOARDMAN Family files wrongful-death suit in 2001 crash
Boardman is involved in two wrongful-death lawsuits.
By JOHN W. GOODWIN JR.
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
BOARDMAN -- A Youngstown-area family has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against township officials and police department and Youngstown city officials and police department after a chase ended in the death of a relative.
Phillip E. Swantner was hit head-on and killed in February 2001 at the corner of Youngstown-Poland Road and Midlothian Boulevard by a car driven by 30-year-old Steven Mango while Mango was fleeing Boardman police. Swantner was not involved in the chase.
The chase began when Boardman police spotted a car driven by Mango near Southern Boulevard and Indianola Road after a reported robbery at the Yankee Kitchen Restaurant, 6635 Market St.
At the time of the accident, Jeffrey L. Patterson, Boardman police chief, said that when police attempted to stop Mango, he fled north on Southern Boulevard, then east on Midlothian to Youngstown-Poland Road with Boardman and Youngstown officers in pursuit using emergency lights and sirens.
Against a red light, Mango turned north onto Youngstown-Poland Road and collided with three other vehicles. One person had to be extricated from a car at the scene by Youngstown firefighters.
The Swantner family's suit, filed in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, says police in both jurisdictions acted in a "willful and wanton disregard for human life and the rights of others, and maintained a policy of emergency response which jeopardized the lives of others." They are asking for damages in excess of $10 million.
Boardman Township also is involved in another wrongful-death lawsuit where a patrolman, while responding to an emergency call, struck a car, killing 21-year-old township resident Steven Memmer.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol, which investigated the crash, said Patrolman Jack Cochran was headed for the 6000 block of Glenridge Avenue in response to a burglary call Feb. 1, 2001. Memmer was on his way home from work.
Memmer turned the Honda he was driving into the driveway of his Southern Boulevard apartment just as Cochran was attempting to pass from behind on his left side. The cruiser struck the car broadside. Memmer died a short time later.
The Memmer family filed a wrongful-death lawsuit in common pleas court in late March 2001 against Cochran. The family is seeking $15 million.
Cochran is countersuing, contending Memmer was negligent by turning into the cruiser's path and was a contributing factor in causing the patrolman's injuries, emotional stress and suffering. That lawsuit is set for trial in March 29, 2004.
Boardman police adopted a policy in May 2001 that required officers to discontinue or avoid a police pursuit whenever danger exceeded the need for apprehension.
Township police pursue a fleeing individual only when the person has committed a felony involving a serious risk to safety or is a hazard to public safety if he or she remains at large.