Texas DPS named in lawsuit following crash

An Odessa couple has filed a lawsuit against the Texas Department of Public Safety in connection with a pursuit that ended with a crash in their driveway two years ago.

According to the lawsuit filed Monday in Ector County District Court, Magdalena Koziarek was sitting in her vehicle in her driveway on West Sunset Lane July 4, 2022, when Trooper Dakota Cole, 22, lost control of his patrol car while traveling more than 70 miles an hour down Whitaker Avenue.

The patrol car struck a curb, crossed Sunset Lane, went off the road and into Koziarek’s GMC Acadia and another car in the driveway, the lawsuit stated. Cole’s vehicle then went through a brick fence and came to rest in a neighbor’s backyard.

According to the lawsuit, other troopers arrived on scene and helped Cole before eventually realizing Koziarek was injured in her vehicle.

“She was attended by paramedics, who persuaded her that she did not need to be taken to the hospital,” the lawsuit stated. “The next day she sought medical treatment and was diagnosed with a concussion and severe aggravation of previous neck and back injuries. She still suffers from neck and back pain that is so great she needs periodic injections.”

After the crash, DPS sent out a statement stating the trooper crashed while pursuing the driver of a 2019 Nissan who fled when he tried to pull him over for a traffic violation. At the time of the news release, the driver hadn’t been found.

Koziarek’s attorneys, Mark Threadgill and Stuart Starry of Midland, argue in their lawsuit that DPS is not immune from being sued because “Cole was not in compliance with the laws and ordinances applicable to emergency action and/or was acting with conscious indifference or reckless disregard for the safety of others.”

They further allege no other trooper under the same circumstances would have pursued the driver of the Nissan.

Koziarek and her husband, Pawel, are seeking $250,000-$1 million in damages alleging reckless and gross negligence. They want damages for pain and suffering, mental anguish, physical impairment, lost wages, medical expenses, loss of consortium, loss of household services and costs of the lawsuit.