Millsaps seeks data from LPD vehicle wreck

Jonathan Herrmann

As the regular monthly meeting for Loudon City Council wrapped up Monday night, discussion turned from budgeted items to a insurance dispute between Councilman Lynn Millsaps and the city.
Monday marked the second time Millsaps had brought the incident to the attention of council and the public.
The wreck occurred July 20 when a building owned by Millsaps on Mulberry Street was hit by a police vehicle while responding to a call. The driver who caused the accident was uninsured.
“The next day the city insurance agent stopped by to tell me I was just out of luck,” Millsaps said during a Sept. 18 meeting. “The city and utility pays the insurance agent over $661,000 a year for insurance.”
Millsaps requested access to the “event data recorder” of the police vehicle involved in the incident during the Sept. 18 meeting and Monday said he had received no response from the city.
“I’m not familiar with that particular terminology,” James “Bear” Webb, Loudon police chief, said. “What I am familiar with is each of these late model automobiles has an on-board computer.
“With the information that I had, I reached out and talked to the service manager at the dealership where we take our cars for warranty work and he advised me that it is possible, and I emphasize possible, that if the car was brought to them that they could hook it up to their diagnostic equipment and there may be some information there, but they don’t know because they’ve never done anything like this,” he added. “The only reason they feel like there may be some information there is because the airbag deployed.”
Millsaps replied that his attorney “wanted it in his possession” when the information was pulled. “If the city has that done, who knows what the results could be,” Millsaps said.
Jim Greenway, Loudon mayor, questioned whether there was a policy allowing access to that part of a vehicle.
“There are insurance implications to that,” Joe Ford, city attorney, said. “I guess one of the purposes of getting this event data recorder is to determine potentially that Loudon Police Department is responsible for this accident. Then we wouldn’t be talking about an (uninsured motorist) claim, we’d be talking about a liability claim. If we’re proved responsible for the accident then we’re responsible for the damage to the building. ... We have to run that through the insurance company to make that kind of decision. Whenever the event data recorder is pulled, both parties want a representative there to ensure that the work is being done fairly.
“... I don’t know if that’s where councilman Millsaps is going, to potentially prove that it was the city of Loudon’s fault, but we have a duty to involve our insurance company in that kind of thing,” he added.
Councilman Dennis Stewart, who also had a vehicle damaged in the accident, was surprised the city doesn’t have uninsured motorist insurance, but Ford said that was common practice for commercial policies.
“I just don’t want to see this happen to anybody else,” Millsaps said. “We pay our insurance agent hundreds of thousands of dollars a year and I think our citizens should be a little better covered than being told you’re just out of luck.”
In other action, council:
  1. Passed the first reading of an amendment to zone 156 acres on Elizabeth Lee Parkway from C-2 highway business district to M-1 light industrial district. A public hearing on the zoning change will be held at 6:25 p.m. Nov. 20.
• Authorized discharge of firearms within city limits for the Loudon Fire and Police Turkey Shoot, scheduled Nov. 4, 11 and 18 at Loudon Municipal Park. Money raised will aid the Children’s Christmas Fund.
• Authorized certain public works department equipment to be considered surplus.
• Approved use of spray thermo street marking for Grove Street from Mulberry Street to Highway 72, and Steekee Street from Grove Street to the city limit.