City of Colorado Springs sued over homeless person’s death

Firefighter drove over sleeping homeless person en route to a fire
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A brush truck similar to this one was driven in the incident at issue. (Courtesy Brienne Boortz)

Patricia Cadilli, daughter of Margaret Miller — who died after a Colorado Springs Fire Department brush truck drove over her en route to a fire — has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city, the firefighter Wesley Cosgrove and the El Paso County Emergency Services Authority.

Cadilli, who lives in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, filed the lawsuit in January.

The city’s answer, filed March 2, alleges Cadilli may lack standing to sue, and that the negligence of the deceased “far outweighs” that of the city and Cosgrove.

Cosgrove was responding a fire call on Oct. 16, 2022, and drove over Miller, who was sleeping on the ground under blankets in Dorchester Park, a known hangout for homeless people.

Cosgrove was charged with careless driving resulting in death. As Sixty35 perviously reported, he last month pleaded guilty to careless driving and was fined $150, placed on one year unsupervised probation and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service. CSFD spokesperson Capt. Mike Smaldino also says that the charge was amended to remove the “causing death” component. Cosgrove is eligible to return to full employment but is currently off work under the Family Medical Leave Act, Smaldino says.

Regarding that criminal case, City Council refused to defend Cosgrove, as Sixty35 reported here.

But now, City Council is likely to follow the recommendation of the City Attorney’s Office to defend Cosgrove in the civil matter. The agenda item for Council’s meeting today, March 13, states, “The Civil Action Investigation Committee has recommended that the City represent the above-named Firefighter as required by the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act. The Firefighter was acting in the course and scope of his employment and was acting in good faith. As usual, it is recommended that the City reserve the right not to pay any award of punitive damages.”

Cadilli’s lawsuit seeks unspecified damages “sustained both as to economic and non-economic losses as a result of the untimely death of Plaintiff’s mother Margaret L. Miller; for monetary damages as are necessary to fully compensate Plaintiff for her non-economic damages including grief, suffering, emotional stress, loss of companionship, impairment of the quality of life, inconvenience, pain and suffering, as well as for reasonable funeral and burial expenses and for such other and further relief available…”

The city’s answer to the lawsuit asserts that the plaintiff may lack standing under the state’s Wrongful Death Act, and that “the proximate cause of the incident in question was the negligence of the deceased or the deceased’s negligence contributed to same.”

The city also says the negligence of the deceased “far outweighs that of City Defendants whose negligence is specifically denied.”

Lastly, the city’s answer says, “Plaintiff is not entitled to recover against City Defendants since at the time of the incident in question the deceased was in violation of local law. Specifically, the deceased is alleged to have been acting in a manner which violated Colorado Springs City Ordinance 9.6.110 by sleeping or otherwise camping on public property. The deceased may also have been in violation of other state and local laws.”

A case management conference is scheduled for March 16 in El Paso County District Court.

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