PORTSMOUTH, Va. — The City of Portsmouth is giving $11 million to a woman who lost her husband, and sustained brain injuries, in a car crash that happened during a police pursuit.
Temika Pleas was represented by the Breit Biniazan law group in the case, which includes Del. Don Scott (D-80th District).
“I saw a brief smile this morning when I told her to stop worrying about taking care of her children," said Jeffrey Breit, one of the attorneys. "The three children will be taken care of for the rest of their life.”
An explanation about this case from the group said Pleas and her husband, Calvin Majette, III, were driving on Portsmouth Boulevard on March 13, 2021, when the collision happened.
The statement said that police officers were chasing a car that ran a red light on California Avenue when that vehicle slammed into Pleas and Majette's car, spinning the couple into a nearby utility pole.
Majette did not survive the impact.
Pleas had to be hospitalized for weeks and was left with brain injuries that mean she won't be able to go back to her job.
The law group said she also had to receive mental health treatment because she was having trouble coping with how difficult it was to now care for the couple's three children, ages 18, 15, and 12.
"The Portsmouth police could have avoided this tragedy altogether,” Scott wrote in a statement about the case. “It’s very unfortunate that the family had to go through this. There are police procedures and policies that were violated in this case. Our hope is that this settlement will be a lesson learned by everyone on what is or isn’t a safe pursuit."
“When you have a misdemeanor and you know who the woman is and you know her address and you know her car... officers, their training are told don’t get into a high-speed chase,” Breit said.
Pleas’ attorney sat down with the Portsmouth City Attorney to resolve the lawsuit outside of court. Ultimately, the city settled, giving Pleas $11 million.
“We were able to resolve it at the exact policy number that the city had and that was fortunate," Breit said. "Otherwise, this would have gone on for a couple of years and she would not have gotten her treatment.”
The amount of the settlement is the police department's maximum "per occurrence" fund.
"The amount of the settlement will provide some sense of stability for this family and their three children," wrote attorney Kevin Biniazan. "While there will never be sufficient funds to replace a life, we hope this will provide some comfort and security."
Pleas' attorneys urge the police department to improve officer training to avoid these tragedies.
The Portsmouth City Attorney's Office said they are pleased to settle the case and help Pleas and her family following the tragedy.