Man fights for damages in police chase

Richard Esposito's tires.
Richard Esposito's tires.

WEST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– He had a run in with police so to speak, and a West Haven man says he’s not backing down.

Richard Esposito didn’t break any laws, but unfortunately, was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was in the middle of a police chase he had nothing to do with.

Now, he says he’s paying the price. He turned to the News 8 Investigators for help.

Richard Esposito says he doesn’t care if it takes four years to get back the approximate $400 he’s owed. Back in May, he ended up blowing out two tires after running over stop sticks while State Police were chasing a suspect. He says since then, he’s been given the run around.

When the News 8 Investigators walked into Richard Esposito’s home, he greeted us with two damaged tires.

Esposito says, “there’s the four spikes in that tire and there’s the two spikes in that tire.”

He explained in detail exactly why he’s fighting for his money.

Esposito says, “I look in my rear view mirror and all I can see is red and blue lights. I pull over, five or six state cruisers fly by me chasing this person.”

That was back in May. State Police were chasing a suspect in a U-Haul on 95 South near exit 70. When all was quiet, Esposito started to drive off. He didn’t make it very far.

Esposito says, “both tires on my passenger’s side were flat.”

He said police waited with him until a tow truck arrived. During that wait he noticed another car pulled over.

Esposito says, “I asked the lady, “What’s the problem?” She said, “I have a flat tire.” I said, “Alright.” I didn’t even occur to me. ”

When his mechanic called to tell him he had police spikes in his tire, it all made sense.

He says it took two weeks to get a police report, which he then sent to his insurance company who sent an adjuster to look at the tires.

Esposito says, ” I was told by the insurance company, “We’ll pay you for the tires, minus the deductible, minus another 106 dollars for wear and tear on the tires.”

Then, Safeco Insurance sent a letter dated June 3rd, to the Connecticut State Police in an attempt to get Esposito’s deductible.

Months later, still no answer. In October, Safeco told Esposito he would have to file a claim.

Esposito did that on October 25th. The Office of the Claims Commissioner acknowledged him on November 5th, saying his claim was sent to the Attorney General’s Office who will investigate and file a position.

On November 10th, the AG’s office sent a letter to the Claims Commissioner saying an attorney would represent the state in this case.

Esposito says, “something is wrong with this picture.”

In the process of making more calls, Esposito was told this process could take up to two years.

Esposito says, “By the time this is all through. To settle this claim, it’s probably going to cost the State of Connecticut, my guess between two and three thousand dollars.”

In December, Esposito contacted the News 8 Investigators. We went straight to the State Insurance Department.

Director Of Consumer Affairs, Gerard O’Sullivan says, “often times, when we get involved, we can get through the red tape and we get a response for you very quickly.”

O’Sullivan says his job is to see if the insurance company is working in a timely manner.

One of the questions O’Sullivan had, “When did the State Police get back to Safeco?” In late December, O’Sullivan reached out to Safeco who informed him that the State Police never responded to Safeco’s June letter until October 1st. It essentially said they weren’t paying the deductible. On October 10th, Safeco made Esposito aware.

O’Sullivan says, “we do run into this every once in a while and people get very angry about it.”

We asked State Police Spokesman Lt. J. Paul Vance if running over police stop sticks like Esposito did, is common.

Vance says, “it’s deployed and it’s removed as quick as possible, so as not to interfere with traffic.”

We asked Vance, “so, this really doesn’t happen very often?” Vance said, “it doesn’t happen at all.”

As for Esposito’s Claim, Vance wouldn’t comment because it’s an open investigation with the AG’s office.

The AG’s office would only say in part, “Where our investigation concludes that a claim is just, we report to the Claims Commissioner that we do not intend to object to the claim.”

Esposito says, “I would take that money and donate it to the Connecticut State Police welfare fund. I don’t even care about the money.”

Esposito says this is too much bureaucracy for $400. Still, the waiting continues.

The State Insurance Department says if you have any questions or you feel you’re waiting to long for answers, contact them. Every year, they recover over $4 million in underpaid or denied claims.

Go to www.ct.gov\cid or call 860 297-3900 or 1 (800) 203-3447.

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