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Naperville Settles $750,000 Lawsuit From 2017 Police-Involved Crash that Killed A 73-Year-Old Woman

The city of Naperville has settled a $750,000 wrongful death lawsuit filed nearly seven years ago by a woman whose mother died in an April 2017 traffic accident involving a now-retired city police officer.

The Naperville City Council authorized the settlement last week for a total of $750,000.

Phyllis Manderston Davis of Naperville died hours after colliding with a police squad car on April 8, 2017. On July 13, 2017, Manderston Davis’ family filed a wrongful death claim. Tracy D. Heusinkveld, the officer in question, and the city of Naperville were named in the lawsuit. Years of litigation followed. The city’s settlement concludes the dispute.

Naperville City Attorney Mike DiSanto issued the following statement to the Naperville Sun: “The approved settlement releases the City and the involved officer from all claims and liability. It specifies that the City continues to deny the allegations, does not admit any wrongdoing, and is settling to avoid the uncertainty and expense of trial.”

The city’s $750,000 payoff will be divided five ways. According to court documents, the disbursement will include approximately $290,000 in attorney’s fees and reimbursement costs, $50,000 in escrow, and more than $400,000 split between Manderston Davis’ daughters, Carilynn King Murawski and Audrey King Rangel.

Murawski, the plaintiff in Manderson Davis’ wrongful death case, will receive $288,660. Rangel will get $123,711.

Calls to Muraswksi were sent to the plaintiff’s attorney, Anthony Russo Jr. of Wheaton-based Russo & Russo Ltd., who did not reply to requests for comment.

Court documents and Sun archives provide information about the April 2017 crash that killed Manderson Davis. She was driving her 2017 Hyundai Elantra north on Ogden Avenue before turning left to go west on Feldott Lane. According to family members, she was driving home from church. Meanwhile, Heusinkveld was conducting surveillance in her squad car in the Enterprise Car Rental parking lot at 1715 Ogden Ave. When she noticed a woman driving south on Ogden Avenue toward Feldott with a cell phone in her ear.

According to reports, Heusinkveld attempted to pull over the woman by accelerating to 68 mph in a 40-mph zone while driving south on Ogden Avenue without using her emergency lights and sirens. Heusinkveld was driving in the right lane and approached a green signal at the Feldott intersection.

On the green light, Manderston Davis began turning left onto Feldott. According to the February 21 settlement decision, the court determined that there was enough space for Manderson Davis to complete the turn. However, during the turn, Heusinkveld’s accelerating police car “violently” collided with Manderson Davis’ vehicle. 

Manderson Davis was transferred to Endeavor Health Edward Hospital in Naperville, where she died several hours later. Heusinkveld was also taken to a hospital, where she was treated and released.

Because of Heusinkveld’s involvement, the collision investigation was handed over to members of the DuPage County Accident Reconstruction Team. According to a sheriff’s spokeswoman, the team determined that the collision was caused primarily by Heusinkveld’s speed and Manderson Davis’ left turn. 

Following the investigation, the DuPage State’s Attorney’s Office found that prosecuting Heusinkvelforth any wrongdoing would be inappropriate. The wrongful death action challenged that ruling, alledging that both Heusinkveld and the city were at fault. Assertions included that “Heusinkveld’s negligent acts and omissions were her conscious choice, made while she was fully aware of the risk her conduct posed to others to whom she owed a duty of care.”

In January 2017, Heusinkveld voluntarily retired from the Naperville Police Department. Her retirement was part of a $140,000 settlement of a workers’ compensation claim accepted by the Naperville municipal council in late 2018, municipal spokeswoman Linda LaCloche told the Sun via email. According to LaCloche, the city eventually collected around $75,000 of the $140,000 settlement through a lien on funds paid to Heusinkveld by Manderson Davis’ auto insurer.

The city’s settlement of $750,000 with Manderson Davis’ family resolves both wrongful death and survival action claims. In the settlement, the city disputed charges and claimed that Murawski, individually and as special administrator and special representative of Davis’ estate, failed to identify a claim against it or Heusinkveld that deserved remedy.

In his statement to the Sun Monday, DiSanto said, “The City of Naperville is pleased to have reached a settlement with the plaintiff to bring this tragic matter to a close.”


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