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Lawsuit settled in 2010 double-fatal crash in Fargo

FARGO – The father of a woman killed in a 2010 crash involving a motorcycle and a church-owned bus has reached a confidential, out-of-court settlement with the bus driver and the church that employed her.

Mirsad Kocic, father of Merlina Ibralic, filed a wrongful death suit in December 2012 in Cass County District Court against bus driver Kathleen Johnson and her employer, the First United Methodist Church of Fargo.

In his suit, Kocic sought a judgment of not less than $50,000 for medical and funeral costs, as well as mental and emotional anguish over the loss of his daughter. How much money he received in the settlement, if any, was not clear.

Kocic’s attorney, Kim Brust, and Robert Stock, an attorney for Johnson and the church, declined to discuss the terms of the settlement. Stock would only say that in resolving the case, the church did not admit any liability. As a result of the settlement, the case was dismissed April 9.

The crash happened about 7:30 p.m. Sept. 30, 2010, at the intersection of 32nd Avenue South and 28th Street in Fargo.

Merlina Ibralic, 26, was a passenger on the motorcycle driven by her husband, Salih Ibralic, 31. The motorcycle was westbound on 32nd Avenue when it collided with the passenger side of the eastbound bus, which was turning left at 28th Street into the parking lot of the Dr. James Carlson Library.

The Ibralics both died from their injuries. Cass County prosecutors did not charge Johnson, who was 51 years old at the time of the crash.

According to a report summarizing why criminal charges were declined, Johnson told investigators she checked for oncoming traffic before turning left and believed it was clear. She did not see the motorcycle, the report stated.

The report also said a witness indicated he saw the traffic light turn red before the motorcycle entered the intersection, and he said the motorcycle was accelerating. Another witness said it appeared the motorcycle entered the intersection on a late yellow or red light, the report stated.

Kocic’s suit alleged Johnson “made a sudden and abrupt left turn in the direct path of the motorcycle.” It claimed negligence on Johnson’s part for failing to yield the right of way, keep a lookout and maintain control of her vehicle. Johnson and the church denied the allegations related to liability and negligence.

In court documents, Johnson and the church contended that Salih Ibralic was at fault, saying that he entered the intersection after the light turned red. They asserted that Johnson turned left when the light for her lane was yellow.