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Woman gets $200,000 settlement for injuries in crash with police car

A $200,000 settlement was approved this week by the Tonawanda Town Board for a woman who was injured when a Niagara Falls police car hit a funeral procession at an intersection in the town.

The payment to Stephanie Insalaco of Grand Island is in addition to almost $60,000 in legal and medical expenses already paid by the town as a result of the May 7, 2009 accident.

Insalaco was riding in a car that was part of a funeral procession traveling on Elmwood Avenue, crossing Sheridan Drive. A town police officer was directing traffic as the cars left a nearby church.

Niagara Falls Police Officer Nicholas Ligammari had been at a meeting in town police headquarters on Sheridan Drive, according to Town Attorney John J. Flynn. Driving an unmarked police car, the officer was traveling on Sheridan Drive, with the green light, when the collision occurred.

Under state Vehicle & Traffic Law, vehicles in funeral processions cannot ignore red lights unless the procession is led by a police vehicle, Flynn said. In this case, there was none.

Insalaco, whose back injuries have resulted in multiple surgeries, no longer can work, Flynn said. She had worked for the Internal Revenue Service.

The case went to trial earlier this year in State Supreme Court.

"The jury never decided what the damages were. The jury only decided liability -- who's at fault," Flynn said.

The city of Niagara Falls was assigned 50 percent liability, the driver of the car in which Insalaco was riding was assigned 40 percent and the Town of Tonawanda was assigned 10 percent.

After the trial, negotiations were held to determine monetary damages.