An Anne Arundel County police officer whose cruiser struck a car in Millersville 13 months ago, killing a Glen Burnie woman and her 19-month-old daughter, is seeking $100,000 in compensation from the woman's husband for pain and suffering.
Officer Stephen C. Perron filed the claim in response to an $11 million wrongful-death suit brought in September in U.S. District Court in Baltimore by Eric Forney of Glen Burnie against Perron, the county government, the county executive, the police chief and several other unnamed officers.
Forney's wife, Brandi Forney, 20, was found at fault by the state's attorney's office for failing to yield the right of way as the officer responded to an emergency call. But Eric Forney contends, among other things, that the county failed to properly train the officer in emergency driving techniques.
Eric Forney's family said he received a copy of Perron's countersuit the day before Thanksgiving. Last week, Forney's brother, mother and stepfather expressed outrage over the claim made against him as the representative of his wife's estate.
"To try and sue for pain and suffering, it kind of seems wrong to me," said the brother, Ray Forney of Mullins, S.C.
"What does he know about pain and suffering?" said Forney's mother, Diana Myers of Millersville.
Attorney Henry Belsky, whose Baltimore law firm is representing Perron, said the officer has the right to make such a claim.
"Pain and suffering isn't a question of who suffered more quantitatively," Belsky said. "He was hurt in the accident [because] the woman went through a stop sign. There's no retaliatory motivation here."
Perron's countersuit was filed in federal court a day after motions were made by the defendants seeking dismissal of Forney's lawsuit on grounds that included government immunity. No action has been taken on those motions.
County police said Perron was responding to a flower shop robbery about 5 p.m. Nov. 19, 1999, with his emergency lights and siren on when the crash occurred. He was driving west on Old Mill Boulevard when the cruiser struck the driver's side of Brandi Forney's white Pontiac Grand Prix as she was turning left from Old Mill Road.
The Pontiac spun, hit a traffic sign and crashed into a grass embankment. Brandi Forney died a few hours after the accident, and daughter Kelsi died two days later.
Perron was reportedly treated for minor hip and chest injuries at North Arundel Hospital and released the night of the accident.
The speed limit on Old Mill Boulevard is 30 mph, and police have acknowledged that Perron was driving faster.
Police said witnesses told them that they could not understand why the woman pulled into the intersection with the police cruiser so near.
Seven months after the accident, Eric Forney, 23, and his mother-in-law, Virginia Condon of Pasadena, filed the wrongful-death suit, claiming that Perron was driving at a "grossly excessive rate" and that he had not been adequately trained in emergency vehicle operations.
Their suit includes as defendants County Executive Janet S. Owens, Police Chief P. Thomas Shanahan, Eastern District Capt. Timothy R. Bowman and officers identified only as "John Doe 1-5," who were responding to the robbery call in other vehicles.
Hamilton Tyler, assistant county attorney, said Perron had been on the force for two years and had received extensive training in emergency vehicle operations - 75 hours during a stint with the Baltimore County police and 14 after he joined the Anne Arundel force.
Perron's countersuit contends that Brandi Forney failed to obey a stop sign at the intersection.
"As a result of the carelessness, recklessness and negligence of [Brandi Forney], defendant Perron has suffered and will continue to suffer from serious and painful injuries to his head, neck and knee and has incurred and will incur expenses for medical treatment, X-rays and medications," the officer's claim states.
It adds that he suffered "great physical and mental anguish" and that all his "injuries, damages and losses - past, present and future - are solely due to the negligence of Brandi Forney."
Perron, reached at his home in Glen Burnie, declined to comment.
Eric Forney's lawyers said that should a judgment be rendered against him, the loss would be covered by the family's insurance policy, not his wife and daughter's estate or himself.
"Money is not the issue," he said.
The police investigation was "totally one-sided," he said. "I'm sure, through the evidence, they'll see he was at fault. I just think that Brandi hasn't had her side told."