METHUEN — A North Andover teenager injured during a high-speed police chase is suing the city of Methuen.
Amanda Tejada, 19, says that police Sgt. Kenneth Leone violated police department policy by embarking on the high-speed chase of a 1998 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup truck around 1:30 a.m. on Sunday, July 27, 2008.
According to the lawsuit filed in Superior Court, Leone attempted to stop the truck for a traffic violation in the area of Roosevelt Avenue. The truck driver sped into Lawrence, where it crashed into Tejada's 2001 Chevrolet Cavalier at Garden and Jackson streets.
Tejada was left with several broken bones. She spent 11 days in Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, according to the lawsuit.
"She is recovering now, but she is still dealing with a lot of the injuries she sustained in this accident that were life-altering," Steven Blair, Tejada's lawyer, said in an interview.
Tejada suffered $628,211 worth of injuries, but the city is only liable for $100,000, Blair said.
The truck driver got away after the crash, court documents show.
Blair said Methuen Police Department policy requires an officer to see a felony take place and for there to be imminent harm to the public to merit a high-speed chase.
The offense that Leone observed, Blair said, was that the pickup truck driver screeched his tires.
City Solicitor Peter McQuillan declined to go into detail about the city's defense in the case, but he called Leone a "professional" who "followed the procedure implicitly and explicitly."
McQuillan said the city is not liable.
"The injuries and damages claimed by the plaintiff were caused, in whole, or in part, by the plaintiff's own negligence and that negligence of the plaintiff was equal to or greater than any negligence by the city of Methuen, such that any recovery for the plaintiff is barred," McQuillan wrote in his response to the lawsuit.
McQuillan also alleged that Tejada was breaking "various" laws at the time of the crash. During an interview, he declined to elaborate on Tejada's alleged conduct.
"That's for the trial," he said.
Leone and police Chief Katherine Lavigne deferred to McQuillan for comment. The Eagle-Tribune has requested a copy of Leone's police report from the incident. The city has yet to respond.
McQuillan said in his response to the lawsuit that Tejada's injuries were caused by a third party whose actions "the city of Methuen has no reason to anticipate" and had no control over. Tejada's injuries were the result of "supervening and intervening causes unrelated to" the city's conduct, McQuillan argued.
McQuillan is demanding the case be dismissed and the city be awarded court costs for defending itself.
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