Judge OKs $100,000 insurance settlement in fatal car accident

A Douglas County judge Monday approved a $100,000 settlement in a lawsuit over a 2010 crash on Clinton Parkway that killed a 19-year-old Lawrence woman.

The parents of Mary Grace Paez, a 2010 Lawrence High School graduate, had reached the agreement with Geico, the insurance carrier for Sean Barrett Walker, a 23-year-old Overland Park man.

Lawrence police have said Paez died when her Nissan Sentra that was headed south on Inverness Drive was struck by Walker’s 2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee that was traveling west on Clinton Parkway at 1:30 a.m. Oct. 14, 2010. At the time of the accident, investigators said they believed Paez made a complete stop at a flashing red light before she pulled into the intersection. Her car was struck by Walker’s Jeep that had entered the intersection on a flashing yellow light.

Police said Walker was treated for a head injury at the crash scene, and officers obtained a warrant to draw blood from him after he refused to submit to testing. Officer Shawn Gross wrote in a police report he observed a moderate odor of alcohol on Walker’s breath and said Walker’s speech was slurred. Results of the blood test have not been made public, and a toxicology report for Paez was negative for alcohol and drugs.

During the hearing Monday morning, attorneys did not mention any specific details about the accident. Cecilia Paez, Mary Grace Paez’s mother, will be awarded 96 percent of the settlement amount, while her ex-husband, Vincent Paez, will receive about 4 percent. Both amounts will be awarded after attorneys’ fees and costs are deducted, according to the agreement Chief District Judge Robert Fairchild approved.

Cecilia Paez’s attorney James Wisler said in court Monday the $100,000 settlement was the maximum amount allowed under Walker’s insurance policy.

District Attorney Charles Branson has said prosecutors still are pondering whether to file criminal charges against Walker, who is currently serving a prison sentence for a probation violation in an unrelated 2006 Johnson County attempted robbery and battery case.