Problem Solvers following through: Memphis pays driver’s claim for damaged car, reverses original denial

Problem Solvers

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis officials have reversed a claim denial against a man who had a traffic signal fall on his car in late 2019.

The Problem Solvers first covered Marcus Mills’s story in February. He had nearly $4,000 in damages when a traffic signal fell on his truck at a Whitehaven intersection.

“They ended up denying it because they see the light was damaged but it wasn’t reported before the damage actually happened,” Mills said at the time.

WREG obtained documents through an open record request where city officials wrote another vehicle had probably snagged the wires but never reported it. A legal expert told the Problem Solvers that meant the city did not have to pay.

“Under the law you have to be able to show the city knew or should’ve known,” attorney Drew Davis said.

The Problem Solvers asked if the city could still pay the claim, even though the law said they did not have to.

Davis was doubtful, but the Problem Solvers still took the situation to city leaders. At the time, City Councilmember Cheyenne Johnson made a promise.

“I will be trying to talk to the responsible parties to see if we can have some reconsideration,” she said.

That effort paid off. Johnson said she appealed to the city attorney.

“I was asking them to have some compassion for a citizen,” she said. “Asking they reconsider or take it to a different level.”

That’s how the Problem Solvers got Mills a settlement.

“I did receive call from Memphis, they did agree to settlement arrangement. They offered $1,000,” he said.

Johnson also said she helped him get his truck fixed for that amount.

“Before you got involved they rejected me, not helping at all. Thanks to you guys, Councilwoman Johnson really helped out,” Mills said.

In a statement from the city’s legal department, they said the accident was not their fault.  But “due to the very unusual circumstances, the City felt it was appropriate to offer Mr. Mills $1,000, which he accepted.”

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