Dallas City Council Member Adam Bazaldua (District 7) led successful efforts last year to give himself and his colleagues a $12,000 yearly car allowance shortly after being sued for a car accident.
The proposal cost Dallas taxpayers $168,000 for the 14 regular council members and was approved in the most recent budget.
Bazaldua defended the budget amendment at the time, saying, “I proposed it because I really believe that we have a lot of wear and tear. … I spend more time in my car than in my office,” per The Dallas Morning News.
Legal filings reviewed by The Dallas Express show that shortly before Bazaldua pushed for the car allowance, he had been sued for up to $1 million for allegedly negligent driving that potentially injured a Dallas citizen.
In August 2022, Dallas County resident Peter Cherry sued Bazaldua for an automobile accident that occurred on February 17, 2021.
At the intersection of Robert B. Cullum Boulevard and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, “Adam Bazaldua failed to be attentive and failed to yield the right of way, colliding with Plaintiff’s vehicle as he was turning at the intersection,” Cherry claims in the suit.
“As a result of the impact, Plaintiff suffered bodily injury and property damage,” the lawsuit continues. “At the time of the accident, Defendant, Adam Bazaldua, was operating his vehicle negligently.”
Bazaldua was driving a blue 2017 Nissan Pathfinder owned by his wife, Britney Bazaldua, according to the crash report filed by the responding law enforcement officer. If purchased new, that model costs anywhere from around $30,000 to almost $44,000.
Citing “physical pain and mental anguish in the past and future; medical expenses in the past and future; physical impairment; and property damage,” Cherry is demanding Bazaldua pay for damages, the cost of the suit, and monetary relief anywhere from $250,000 to $1 million.
In a subsequent affidavit, Cherry reported the various medical expenses associated with the incident, including treatment from ASP Cares, the Comprehensive Spine Center of Dallas, Epic Pain & Orthopedics, Lakewood Anesthesia, Memorial Care Pharmacy, Metroplex DME, Momentum Spine & Joint, North Texas X-ray Services, and Prime Diagnostic Imaging.
The month after the lawsuit was filed, Council Member Bazaldua offered an amendment to the Dallas City budget on September 21, 2022. The amendment provided $168,000 for a “car allowance” for the 14 members of the Dallas City Council.
To fund the initiative in part, Bazaldua urged for $95,783 to be stripped from the Pension Stabilization Fund.
The majority of the City Council voted in favor of the amendment, although Council Member Cara Mendelsohn (District 12) voted against the proposal.
The budget amendment, which effectively amounted to a 20% raise for the council members, received pushback from community members and elicited a delightful political cartoon.
One resident, Leo Whelan, took to social media to slam the measure as “INSANITY.”
Another resident criticized the City Council for making decisions that “drive up our property taxes, let violent crime spike, support the explosive growth in homelessness … and give themselves a de facto raise. What car costs $1000/month? Disgraceful.”
Regarding the lawsuit, Bazaldua has denied “each and every, all and singular the material allegations made” by Cherry and requested a jury trial, according to court documents.
In response to Cherry’s claimed medical expenses, Bazaldua’s legal team retained Dr. Mohammed Shaikh to review the procedures. Shaikh asserted, “[B]ased upon my knowledge, skill, experience, training, education, and other expertise, I state that it is my opinion interventional treatment and imaging rendered was not medically necessary and billed excessively high.”
Dr. Janette Kurban, a chiropractor and acupuncturist, was also retained to examine the medical treatment Cherry received. She suggested that “the number of treatments/services rendered for the injuries alleged were not all medically necessary.”
The jury trial is currently set for January 22, 2024.
Bazaldua did not respond to The Dallas Express when asked about the timeline and motivation behind the car stipend amendment and whether it had anything to do with the lawsuit filed the month prior.