Pitkin County has paid $50,000 to a Denver woman who sued the sheriff’s office and its animal-control officer for a 2012 traffic accident in which she said she was taken out while riding a motorcycle driven by her husband.
Wanda Saindon’s attorney filed the settlement notice in Pitkin County District Court in July, about a month and a half after the lawsuit seeking more than $500,000 was filed.
Saindon filed suit against Marie Baker, who has worked for the sheriff’s office for 30 years, and the office’s animal control division. The accident happened in Clear Creek County on June 6, 2012.
When the lawsuit was filed in late May, Baker said that she was in that county to help with an animal cruelty case. She said she helped remove reindeer, llamas, alpacas, goats, chickens and other animals from a ranch, and was on her way back to Pitkin County when the accident happened.
According to Saindon’s lawsuit, she was riding on the back of the motorcycle on Colorado Highway 103 near Idaho Springs. The lawsuit said Baker was turning left onto the westbound Interstate 70 on-ramp around 4 p.m. In doing so, she turned the sheriff’s office vehicle she was driving in front of the Saindons’ motorcycle, which T-boned Baker’s vehicle.
“I was barely moving, and I just didn’t see them,” said Baker, the county’s lone animal control officer, at the time. She said she was cited for an illegal left turn.
Saindon was ejected from the motorcycle and taken away in an ambulance, the lawsuit said. Another court filing said she suffered lacerations to her head, left elbow, neck, back, arm, hip and other parts of her body, along with road rash.
Sheriff Joe DiSalvo said his office at the time was loaning its resources to another public safety agency, “which we do frequently.” He said Baker stayed at the scene “and did everything expected of a Colorado driver.” Baker was not disciplined further than the ticket, DiSalvo said.
Pitkin County Attorney John Ely said Friday that the government did not deny the accident happened. A risk analysis, conducted by the county’s human resources department in conjunction with its insurer, took into account Saindon’s injuries and the damage to the Harley Davidson motorcycle in determining the settlement offer, he said.