The Scottsdale City Council approved a $1.5-million settlement with the parents of a toddler boy tragically killed in an accident involving a bay door at a city fire station in 2018.
Daniel and Courtney Reiss filed a wrongful death suit against the city in 2018 after their 16-month-old son Joey was killed at Fire Station 601 in southern Scottsdale.
Joey was visiting the fire station with his mother and other families Feb. 3, 2018, when he was caught in closing bay doors.
According to the notice of claim, some of the children and mothers took a short ride around a nearby park on a fire truck. The departing truck triggered a sensor to automatically close the doors minutes later and the youngster was caught in the doors, suffering multiple skull injuries.
The Reiss family initially sought $9 million from the city and other defendants named in the suit, according to a notice of claim sent to the city.
A City Council memo on the settlement noted that the Reiss family reached a separate confidential settlement with other co-defendants in the civil case. The memo does not specify which co-defendants are parties to that settlement or the amount of the settlement.
The original notice of claim stated that the city’s lawyer suggested other parties may be responsible.
The civil suit against the city in Maricopa County Superior Court also named several defendants in addition to the city, including the door manufacturer, installer, the architect and general contractor for the fire station.
The co-defendants in the case include Minnesota-based Door Engineering and Manufacturing LLC; door distributor Byron Epp; Tempe-based Caliente Construction; California-based WLC Architects; Tucson-based C&D Garage Doors; and Tempe-based DH Pace.
The city did not admit fault as part of the settlement approved by the City Council.
The settlement includes a clause requiring all parties to keep the details of the agreement confidential except for those that must be disclosed in accordance with Arizona law.
The city will pay the $1.5-million from its Risk Management Operating Budget and could apply the settlement amount to next year’s primary property tax levy.
“The City of Scottsdale has a practice of including paid tort settlements equal to or greater than $20,000 in the City’s primary tax rate to reimburse the Self-Insured Fund for payment of the claim,” according to a City Council memo.
The tragic accident highlighted the risks associated with the types of bay doors in use at the fire station.
A letter submitted to the Reiss’ lawyer by Mark Cannon with Ausperger Komm Engineering stated that the doors are opened using remote controls in a truck or a button on the wall and then close automatically 3 minutes and 45 seconds later “suddenly and without warning.”
When the doors open, there is a nine-inch gap at the hinge point, which is where Joey Reiss was when the doors closed on him.
Cannon suggested several safety improvements, including painting the door’s manual release handles red, applying a flexible, tough barrier to pinch points, and creating warning signs on the doors.