The City of Troy settles lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Albany by Cinthia Thevenin, widow of slain community member Edson Thevenin. Edson Thevenin was murdered by Troy Police Department Sergeant Randall French in April 2016.
In cases such as this, cities often settle rather than risk a loss in court with potentially larger financial ramifications. As quoted in The Times Union, "the settlement also means for the city there will be 'no admission of liability or fault on the part of the defendants.'" The insurance company of the City of Troy pays $1.3 million of the settlement while the City of Troy pays $250,000 with legal fees doubling that amount $500,000 for the city.1
On September 9, 2021, the City Council of Troy, NY approved the settlement with the attached memorandum. Community members were present during the in-person City Council meeting, verbally protesting the attached written memorandum. During this meeting, the only near apology ever issued by anyone from the City of Troy was expressed by Corporate Counsel Richard Morrissey. The following written memorandum, shared in full, does not acknowledge any of the discrepancies in claims and findings represented in documents such as the NY Attorney General report. It only doubles down on the accusations against Thevenin and the defense of Sgt. French for his questionable actions on the night of April 16, 2016.
ORDINANCE AUTHORIZING SETTLEMENT OF CLAIM, TO WIT: CINTHIA THEVENIN, PLAINTIFF V. THE CITY OF TROY ET AL., DEFENDANTS, U.S. DISTRICT COURT, NORTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK CIVIL ACTION NO. 1:16-CV-01115 (DJS)2
This settlement arises out of the fatal shooting of Edson Thevenin by Troy Police Sergeant Randall C. French on April 17, 2016, which occurred when Sergeant French was attempting to arrest Mr. Thevenin for Driving While Intoxicated. Although this legislation authorizes a substantial settlement of the claim, there is no admission of fault or liability. The City has never retreated from its position that the killing - however tragic and regrettable - was lawful. There are indisputable facts. Mr. Thevenin was not unarmed. He was intoxicated (0.19 BAC) and driving a 4000 pound automobile directly at Sergeant French when Sergeant French shot and killed him. This occurred immediately after Mr. Thevenin had backed his vehicle into Captain Montanino's patrol car and then had reversed direction toward Sergeant French. Sergeant French ultimately was physically pinned against his own patrol car by Mr. Thevenin's vehicle, which was found to be in 'Drive' mode. What Mr. Thevenin was thinking when he performed these operations, we will never know. He was highly intoxicated. But Sergeant French reasonably believed he was going to be crushed, and in those circumstances, the shooting was justified.
Nevertheless, in continuation of the tragedy of this case, Sergeant French died on April 30, 2020. Although his deposition had been taken by plaintiffs attorneys and could be admitted into evidence, a jury would never be able to hear Sergeant French completely explain in his own voice his perceptions, actions, and motivations on April 17, 2016. However, they would hear Mrs. Thevenin credibly testify as to hers and her children's losses due to the untimely death of her husband. That dynamic drove a great amount of uncertainty. The Court suggested a settlement conference and the parties met with Judge Stewart on August 4 to discuss all of the issues. The City's excess insurance carrier was present and participated. Ultimately, after seven hours of negotiation, and despite the reluctance of the parties, the Court facilitated a settlement in the amount of $1,550,000, to which all parties agreed.
The settlement resolves all of the plaintiffs claims fully and finally with no admissions of liability or fault, and no additional award of attorney's fees. If the settlement is approved, the City's excess insurance carrier will pay $1,300,000 of the total amount and the City will be liable for the balance of $250,000 from our self-insured retention. The City already has paid nearly $250,000 in attorney's fees and disbursements for the defense of the case.
The settlement of this lawsuit is expressly subject to City Council approval, and it is respectfully recommended that the settlement be approved. Although not an ideal result, it is a realistic and reasonable way to manage and resolve the risks of this litigation. By terms of the settlement, the case will be discontinued in its entirety and the proceeding will be dismissed with prejudice upon payment of the agreed sum. There will be no admission ofliability or fault on the part of the defendants. Additionally, each party will be responsible for its own costs and attorney's fees, and the defendants will be released from all further liability. The recommendation to settle this case represents a business judgment made in full consideration of the particular facts and circumstances of the case, the available defenses to the claim, and the possibility of a higher award of damages with attorney's fees, as well as the expenditures of further litigation, trial, and appeal. Moreover, regardless of the actions of Mr. Thevenin, his family is certainly blameless and has suffered. In the circumstances of this case, settlement for the agreed amount - with the certainty and finality it provides - is not only prudent and reasonable, but humane.
Both the Court and the plaintiff understand that the proposed settlement is conditioned upon approval of the City Council and the Mayor. If the terms of the settlement are not approved and fully executed, the case will be returned to the District Court calendar for trial to be held after the Thanksgiving holiday.September 9, 2021, City Council of Troy, NY Signed Legislation