Arbitrators have awarded $6 million to the widow of a prominent Kansas City doctor who was killed while trying to help at an accident scene.
A panel of three retired judges ruled that the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission was 100 percent responsible for the death of Garth Harrison, who was struck and killed by a motorist as he walked along eastbound U.S. 50 in Johnson County, Mo.
The panel decided that the commission “failed to properly construct, maintain and apply appropriate signage” to the highway near the accident.
The judges based their decision on the fact that the stretch of highway had not been resurfaced in more than a decade, was poorly designed and had seen more than a dozen wrecks in less than four years.
Harrison, 51, was doctor of pulmonary medicine at Research Medical Center for more than 20 years. News of his death shook staff and patients at the hospital.
According to the arbitration award, Harrison was driving east on U.S. 50 near Northwest 751st Road on July 16, 2004, when another vehicle lost control on wet pavement, ran off the road and overturned several times. As Harrison walked toward the wrecked vehicle, an eastbound car lost control and struck him.
Harrison’s widow, Collette Harrison, filed a personal-injury lawsuit in 2005 against the highways commission and the driver of the car that struck him. The driver’s insurance company settled with Harrison and was released from the litigation. The plaintiff and the commission agreed to binding arbitration, which is allowed under state law. Officials from the commission could not be reached for comment.