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Youngstown families of injured children sue Liberty cops

Published: Thu, April 28, 2011 @ 12:09 a.m.

By Ed Runyan



Parents of three children seriously injured by a driver speeding down Grenada Avenue on Thanksgiving Day 2006 have sued Liberty Township and Liberty police officers who chased the driver prior to the crash.

The lawsuit was filed in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court on behalf of the children, Sidney Kimbrough, Naijah Hasley and Toni Davis. The children, age 6, 3, and 6, respectively at the time of the accident, are of Youngstown.

The lawsuit says Liberty police made a traffic stop on the driver, Dontae Hubbert, then 20, of Delaware Avenue, on state Route 193 in Liberty Township, then chased the vehicle south toward Youngstown.

Vindicator files say Liberty police stopped the car for having no front license-plate, then chased the car after it took off.

However, Anthony Slifka, Liberty’s police chief at the time, said the officer broke off the chase long before Hubbert’s vehicle struck the children, who were playing in a yard at the corner of Grenada and Cordova avenues on Youngstown’s North Side, just south of Northside Medical Center.

“The officer knew it was a residential area, so he terminated the chase. He stopped the chase about six or seven blocks before the accident, but [Hubbert] continued with the high speed,” Slifka said.

Hubbert fled the scene of the accident on foot and later turned himself in to police.

Hubbert later was sentenced in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to three counts of vehicular assault and single counts of failure to comply and improperly handling a firearm in a motor vehicle.

Kimbrough and Hasley remained in critical condition for several days after the accident. The lawsuit says all three children suffered unspecified serious and permanent injuries.

The lawsuit accuses Liberty police of acting in a negligent and/or reckless and wanton manner that showed a “disregard for human life and the rights and safety of the public.”

The suit says the township failed to establish and/or enforce policies regarding police chases.

The suit seeks at least $25,000 in damages.

Mark Finamore, Liberty’s law director, said the township will turn the case over to its liability-insurance carrier to provide legal defense on the case.

The families filed the suit previously, but withdrew it and were allowed to refile at a later date, Finamore said.

Pat Ungaro, Liberty Township administrator, said the township feels “pretty far removed from responsibility” for the crash that injured the children.


1SNAPPER(1 comment)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

This is a prim example of a person evading a police officer. No matter what conspires in the chase proess. the evader is resonsible for all damages. Where in H---- are our couts system in these cases.

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2markshanks75(1 comment)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

Millions of drivers are breaking the law with no insurance because they don't know this about a savings called "Auto Insurance Clearance"

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3UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

Just another goofy lawsuit with parents looking to load up their pockets with insurance monies.

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4MattMarzula(109 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

BS lawsuit.

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5Lifes2Short(3882 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

This is exactly what I mean about the police always getting a bad rap. They pull over this dirtbag, he takes off (against the law), speeds through a residential area (against the law), hits the children (against the law), takes off after the accident (against the law) and the Police are getting sued! Are people that "stupid" in today's society? Amazing.

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6Iwannamove(61 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

Nope not stupid ....just plain greedy. Its amazing what some people sue over and its all about the money . I see the police did no wrong go after the crook.

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7Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

The big question is . . ..
Can Dontae Hubbert collect anything for being traumatized by the chase ?

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8apollo(1227 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

I'll bet all of the above would be filing a lawsuit too if it happened to them.

Police departments need to quit putting the citizens at risk chasing criminals in high speed chases. Is it worth the cost that these children will suffer for a guy pulled over for a traffic violation?

It isn't like the family is suing for millions either.

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9apollo(1227 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

BPD hit and killed an innocent person a few years back. Since then, I think they changed their pursuit policy to do not pursue. Most departments are going this way, especially for no front license plate stops!

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10endthismess(464 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

Police ended the chase blocks before the accident occured. Where's the LPD's neglience? Police knew what to do. Give up on trying to catch this scumbag because he was out the Liberty's patrol area. And..why only "at least $25,000"? Somebody has just now decided, while watching an attorney's ad on TV, they want some "pocket change" money after 5 years goes by? Yea, right. The guilty party, who is now doing 10 years in the can, was the one who was driving his car like a bat outta hell and hit these kids. Police records will show the truth here again. How do you think this fool was found guilty in the first place? Police records. What other records do these people think they will find now? When you can "hear" someone thinking, that's spells greed, in this case. Weak, very weak and reaching.

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11nez1(4 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

Suing the police and/or township is nothing but a money grab. It was Hubbert that broke the law when he ran from the police. It was Hubbert that continued to knowingly drive in an unsafe manor even after the officer discontinued pursuit. Hubbert lost control and injured the kids... It wasn't the township or its residents that are paying for this law suit whether they win or lose!

apollo makes a good point that the original infraction was a simple front plate, and the officer recognized that as well as the fact that the public might be in danger, and so he terminated the pursuit. That specific action disproves the "disregard for human life and the rights and safety of the public" claim in the suit and clearly shows sole fault is on Hubbert.

It's just too bad Hubbert doesn't have any money so they have to find someone they can sue! The plaintiff's attorney should be disbarred, and the judge should fine the families bringing the suit for wasting the court's time.

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12George412(161 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

What were the extent of the children's injuries? Were there medical expenses from copays and deductibles? Did parents have to miss work to care for the injured children?

Before we start calling people greedy for suing for 25K, let's remember how easy it is to get to that number with the medical expenses for one person, let alone three.

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13walter_sobchak(2728 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

This is a tragedy for these families. They are suing for damages so that means they have incurred expenses to be made whole. I'm sure the wandering shred of human debris Dontae Hubbert was operating his car without liability insurance or financial ability to pay damages as he is now in prison where he can spend the next ten years lifting weights and studying Islam. The families are probably looking for some settlement from Liberty's insurance carrier to minimize their damages. I won't villanize them because I sure wouldn't want to trade places with them.

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14MLC75(661 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

The family is trying to hit the lottery at the expense of the Liberty Police.It's all about $$$$.

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15Fattkidd(45 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

'Several Blocks' when you're doing 80mph or more is about a second or two at most. The officer(s) cut off their chase seconds before the kids were mowed down. Big whup! That angle of defense is invalid. If I'm the lawyer for the kids, I eat the LPD's lunch if that's their best defense.

We all know police use BS reasons like 'missing front tag' to pull over black kids in order to search their vehicles for drugs or guns or whatever.

Legalize all drugs now and this madness ends tomorrow. The price of pot, cocaine, whatever will drop so fast and so low that 90% of the dealers out there now will be out of business in a matter of days.

When it all boils down... these are three more victims in the failed 'War on Drugs'.

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16Ytownnative(1121 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

of course Dontae Hubbert bears no responsibility for any of this

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17Nunya(1356 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

This is painfully unfortunate but the suit isn't frivolous,.. not in the least.

Where the officer isn't to be cited as in anyway negligent and his record should never indicate otherwise. However, it's without question that the criminal and cause of the mass injuries to those children. Were inflicted as the direct result of Dontae Hubbert's efforts to escape apprehension.

The last thing that's in order here is to re-victimize the victims or their families or vilify the officer. See the victims in this case are those children, their families and including the officer, and the city taxpayers. Where I feel the suit by directive is flawed. The damages are otherwise justifiably sought and should be awarded under another manner of palliation..

To include the pursuant judgment should reflect any and all funds extracted from the city and or liability-insurance carrier to render relief. Should be immediately followed with a durable negligence and forfeiture suit filed against Dontae Hubbert, as culpable.

Hence any and all future or potential wages, property or funding in the name or association with Dontae Hubbert. Should duly be remained as under seizure and or forfeiture as an outstanding debt owned to the city.

Whereas everything from requesting a state drivers license, to any and all current and future real property ownership, filings for unemployment, tax return refunds or future pension, financial gifts or awards. Are to be held as provisional assets subject to garnishment, forfeiture or liquidity pursuant to collection of all culpable debt.

The vehicle operators life, pockets and total existence. Should be pursued for repayment and provisionally bound until every single cent is repaid.

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18apollo(1227 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

Hot pursuits of misdemeanor offenders is a bad idea. Most police departments have a policy that says hot pursuits are only valid in certain circumstances. Liberty is partially at fault for permitting a hot pursuit in a situation that didn't call for it. They will be found negligent. Their insurance company should pay up and then go after the defendant for restitution. Good luck collecting.

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19Nunya(1356 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

@ MLC75

Why such a stooge?

Those innocent children and their families have suffered irreparable damage, harm, injury and impairment. It only implicates LPD because it was in their jurisdiction and the acting officer was empowered by that municipality. I don't see this families suit as any malicious tort of opportunism. But I also don't see the officer as any unhinged ingrate either.

This whole ordeal was a unfortunate and horrendous accident. Which it all hinged upon the reactionary response of a criminal. A criminal that was operating a motor vehicle and created chaos attempting to avert a fine or apprehension.

See along with the ominous sufferance of the trauma sustained by the children and families. Medical expenses and emotional hardships aren't to be questioned here. The amount of only $25,000.00 dollars may sound like a lot to you. However, it's a mere penance when dealing with multiple injuries. That renders such impairments that can and likely will require a lifetime of treatments and followups.

Where I'd not wish you'd have to experience such an ordeal But it's clear you need to experience more than you have. Because your lack of respect for such leaves you a fitting candidate of having more compassion than you so egregiously lack.

If it were you as the afflicted of such a ordeal. You'd want and need all the aide, understanding, and assistance you could get. Where if we were all like you, irony is you'd be up skits creek without a paddle seeking to be made whole,.. think about that.

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20Nunya(1356 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

@ Fattkidd

Hold on here,..

See beyond any periphery of misguided preponderance. The indisputable fact of the matter is the officer was lawfully doing his job. When he sought to review the driver for his vehicle being in operable violation. Hence let there be no question that it was that driver that fled on his own. In unquestionably fleeing to deliberately hide something and proceeded to have mangled those innocent children.

This is no flip the script venue, case nor opportunity to try to make this a racially motivated travesty. No matter what color, gender, age or faith anyone associated or afflicted by this occurrence is. Race, posture nor locality has absolutely nothing to do with anything here.

Where not being one to vilify one to shirk the irresponsibility of another. I stand with the victims just as genuinely as I stand with that patrolman. It was the driver of that vehicle that's cited as criminally wrong. Hence if you want to split circumstantial hairs of irony and irrelevance about it. That driver and those innocent children were of the same race,.. but so what.

So see if you're going to try to nonsensically infuse a profiling of probable or definite cause here. Just what form of racial identity, probability or culpability. Either can or will you so precociously try to find as being of any pertinent relevance in that?

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21Lifes2Short(3882 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

Yep, blame the Police, sue the Police and make Liberty the scrape goat in this sue happy land of America just because they were trying to get some riff raff off the streets. They bad. God forbid they do there job. Amazing the stupidity of some of these comments.

Dontae Hubbert did NO WRONG in this. He is the victim. Poor Dontae.

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