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Fargo settles with family of girl killed in street rut accident

FARGO - The city of Fargo has settled a claim filed by the family of 8-year-old Amanda Leininger of Fargo, who was killed Dec. 10 in a three-vehicle accident that Mayor Dennis Walaker later blamed on a rut in the road on South University Drive.

FARGO - The city of Fargo has settled a claim filed by the family of 8-year-old Amanda Leininger of Fargo, who was killed Dec. 10 in a three-vehicle accident that Mayor Dennis Walaker later blamed on a rut in the road on South University Drive.

City Attorney Erik Johnson said the city paid the family $450,000 under the settlement.

The city and Leininger family released a joint statement. It reads:

"As a result of settlement discussions occurring on July 29, 2009, the family of Jessica and Amanda Leininger have come to a resolution of the family's claims against the City of Fargo regarding the tragic accident of December 10, 2008. Curtis and Cynthia Leininger and their family wish to thank their families, friends, church members and all of those they have never even met, for all of the support shown them in these past difficult months and for their continued support. The City of Fargo hopes this resolution further brings some peace to the Leininger family."

A judge has ordered the case file sealed because it involved juveniles, Johnson said.

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Leininger's 15-year-old sister was driving the car when it collided with oncoming traffic after entering a rut where the southbound lane meets the shoulder. A city crew was on its way to fix the rut when the crash happened.

Johnson said he couldn't discuss whether the city acknowledged wrongdoing in the agreement.

"The case has been settled, and the terms are sealed and confidential by order of the court. I think you can infer some things from those facts," he said.

Taxpayers ultimately will pay for the settlement. The city is a self-insured entity, and claims are paid out of the city's general fund, Johnson said.

Walaker referred questions about the settlement to the city attorney's office.

During Monday night's City Commission meeting, as Walaker talked about the city's budget woes, he said, "The case down south, the court has basically sealed that. That's another negative." He confirmed today he was referring to the settlement.

The city also is preparing to pay out up to $1.5 million after a court decision against the city for overcharging on traffic fines.

Walaker referred to the two court cases, as well as a $663,000 hike in worker's compensation premiums, when talking about the budget and why the city couldn't afford to give employees a cost-of-living raise in 2010.

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The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and the Herald are Forum Communications Co. newspapers.

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