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DES MOINES — The state will pay an $8 million settlement, believed to be one of the largest in state history, to the family of a Quad Cities-area man who was left unable to walk after being struck by an Iowa Department of Transportation snowplow blade in 2019.
The State Appeals Board approved the deal at its regular meeting Monday afternoon. The $8 million settlement is believed to be one of, if not the largest, in state history, according to spokespeople for multiple state agencies. It is more than the state panel approved for all settlements in the entirety of the 2021 state budget year, and also more than five of six fiscal years between 2013 and 2018.
According to state records, on Jan. 23, 2019, the blade of a snowplow owned by the Iowa DOT struck Terry Bunting, of Silvis, Ill., on Highway 67 in Scott County, causing serious injuries.
Bunting suffered multiple fractures, including to his spine, pelvis, ribs and leg, and required eight surgeries during an 11-month hospitalization, the records show. Bunting, now 64, is unable to walk and will require “significant future health care and assistance.”
At the time of the accident, Bunting was a contracted truck driver for the U.S. Postal Service, according to state records.
The settlement includes compensation for Bunting’s family, for whom Bunting had been a provider, according to state records. His wife is legally blind and cannot drive, and one of his three daughters has special needs and lives in a group home.
The settlement was approved by the Iowa Attorney General’s Office in April, and Monday afternoon by the State Appeals Board, which is comprised of the state auditor, treasurer and budget manager.
Bunting, through his lawyer, declined to be interviewed. His lawyer, John Bush, said Bunting and his family were pleased to see the yearslong process finally come to a close.
“I think it’s a big step in moving forward to address the damages that he sustained as a result of this accident,” Bush said. “We’re just happy that this portion of this matter has been resolved now, and Terry’s looking forward to moving on with the rest of his life.”
Bush said Bunting regarded the life-altering incident as a tragic accident.
“Terry relayed to me that he did not personally blame the driver of the snowplow,” Bush said, “that he understood that this was all just a tragic accident on the part of the snowplow driver and that he holds no personal grudges.”
In 2019, Bunting told WQAD-TV in Davenport that he was on his mail route through LeClaire when his windshield wipers began freezing over. He pulled off the interstate and pulled over to clean his wipers. As he was returning to his truck, he was struck by the snowplow blade.
“I was starting to get back into the truck when I see the snowplow coming and I could not get out of his way,” Bunting told WQAD-TV.
Bunting told the TV station that he could remember lying on the street, screaming. Yet even then, he said he did not blame the plow driver.
“Accidents happen,” Bunting told the TV station. “He was doing his job as well as I was doing mine.”
The settlement payments will be made from the state’s primary road fund, according to state records.
Sarah Watson of the Quad City Times contributed.
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