Surviving members of three hit and run victims lose suit against City of Elkhart

GOSHEN, Ind. -- The Elkhart Circuit Court has ruled in favor of the City of Elkhart in the case that saw surviving family members of children killed in a 2017 Elkhart hit and run sue the city for negligence, claiming it knew the intersection was dangerous and failed to act. 

On Aug. 26, 2017, eight-month-old Dolly Smith, 11-year-old Courtney Jo Smith, and 22-year-old Shawn Wilcott were hit and killed as they were walking the sidewalk along Beardsley Avenue

Surviving family members of deceased filed a lawsuit against the City of Elkhart in February of 2019, and after a long court battle, the ruling was issued on Thursday.

The judge in the case ruled in favor of the City of Elkhart, stating: "A governmental entity is immune for a loss resulting from 'the act or omission of anyone other than the governmental entity or the governmental entity's employee.'"

The ruling states that since the city was not directly responsible for the three deaths, they are immune from prosecution. 

"In sum, in their case-in-chief, Plaintiffs did not present any evidence from which reasonable jury could find Defendant City of Elkhart negligent, as the proximate cause of Plaintiffs' injuries, nor any evidence to defeat statutory immunity. Therefore, Plaintiffs failed to meet their burden to prove their claims of negligence by the greater weight of the evidence and this Court should enter judgment on the evidence in the City's favor," the ruling concluded. "For the foregoing reasons, the Court should grant judgment on the evidence in favor of Defendant City of Elkhart on all of Plaintiffs' claims."

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