Scottsdale OKs $1.5M settlement over boy’s death at fire station

Sep 6, 2019, 11:18 AM | Updated: 12:49 pm

Scottsdale Fire Station No. 1. (Google Street View)...

Scottsdale Fire Station No. 1. (Google Street View)

(Google Street View)

PHOENIX – The city of Scottsdale has agreed to a $1.5 million settlement with the family of a young boy killed by the automatic door of a fire station last year.

The City Council authorized a resolution to accept the settlement during its Aug. 27 meeting.

Sixteen-month-old Joey Reiss died from injuries suffered Feb. 3, 2018, when he was crushed by a bay door at Scottsdale Fire Station No. 1 on Miller Road north of McDowell Road.

His parents, Daniel and Courtney Reiss, filed a $9 million wrongful death and emotional distress notice of claim June 21, 2018.

“This wrongful death case was likely based on negligence,” KTAR News 92.3 FM legal expert Monica Lindstrom said. “The fire station had a duty to protect its visitors from dangers and death, and it breached that duty with how and when the bay doors closed.”

More than a year into litigation, the parties reached the settlement after a full day of negotiations, according to the City Council agenda item report.

“When settling, the city had to take into account the cost of further litigation, the likely jury award and court of public opinion result, and its ability to pay,” Lindstrom said.

The report said funds for the settlement were available from the city’s risk management operating budget, and the expense may be included in the city’s property tax rate next year.

A confidentiality clause prevented the release of details beyond what was required by law, the report said.

Courtney and Joey were touring the station with other families when the accident occurred.

According to the notice of claim, when a truck left the station to take some of the visitors on a ride, it triggered a sensor that was programmed to close the bay door several minutes later. The door had been open before the truck left, and there was no warning it would be shutting.

When it “violently slammed shut on Joey,” his mother had no time to react, the claim said.

The boy suffered skull fractures and a massive brain injury and was never revived, despite efforts at the station and the hospital. He was declared dead two days later, and his organs were donated.

The claim said the risk of the type of door at the station was known and the danger was foreseeable.

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Scottsdale OKs $1.5M settlement over boy’s death at fire station