State to pay $2 million after prisoner causes fatal crash

By Deena Winter | Nebraska Watchdog

LINCOLN, Neb. – Lawmakers gave initial approval Tuesday to a $2 million settlement with the family of a woman who was struck and killed by a van driven by a prisoner in Lincoln.

PRISONER: Jeremy Dobbe faces a manslaughter charge in connection with the crash that killed a Lincoln woman.

Joyce Meeks, 47, was driving home from work in June when she was struck and killed by a van that had been speeding and erratically swerving before the crash. Its driver was Jeremy Dobbe, a prisoner who was en route to pick up other prisoners on work release.

The settlement, if it gets final approval and is signed by the governor, would resolve a $5 million claim against the state that Meeks’ son and husband filed in July. Six months later, when the state claims board failed to take action on the claim, they filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the state and Dobbe, claiming he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash.

The settlement was tacked onto a budget bill Tuesday as a last-minute amendment. Omaha Sen. Steve Lathrop said the settlement was recently approved by the attorney general’s office.

Two weeks after the fatal accident, the state ended the 28-year-old program that allowed inmates to drive other inmates around.

Contact Deena Winter at deena@nebraskawatchdog.org. Follow Deena on Twitter at @DeenaNEWatchdog

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