RACINE — A Caledonia man whose wife was killed 2½ years ago in a head-on crash has reached a settlement with the Racine County man convicted in the drugged driving collision.
Troy Schluechtermann filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Daniel J. Hess, 40, also of Caledonia, on May 28, 2013. He filed suit after his wife, Michelle, 42, died on April 2, 2012.
She was driving to work when her van was hit head on by Hess, who was on his way home from work. Hess was driving under the influence of prescription drugs when he crossed the center line and struck her van, according to police.
Michelle Schluechtermann also served as her husband’s caregiver.
Troy Schluechtermann’s attorney, Chad Kreblin, said during a hearing on Wednesday that the two sides have reached an agreement in the case. But he declined to disclose terms of the settlement, including the dollar amount.
“The substance of the stipulation, we ask it be kept in confidence,” Kreblin said during the hearing. “We made some changes (to a tentative agreement) at his request. We’re in agreement now.”
During a hearing on Dec. 1, Kreblin said: “I don’t want the terms made public. My client is an at-risk individual.”
“Generally, settlements are not public because they are between the parties,” Racine County Circuit Court Judge Emily Mueller said during Wednesday’s hearing.
Kreblin didn’t specify what changes were made to the earlier, tentative agreement. However, during the Dec. 1 hearing, Hess voiced concerns that Michelle Schluechtermann’s three daughters also could file suit.
“I can tell you there are no intentions to pursue any other claims against Mr. Hess,” Kreblin told Mueller during that Dec. 1 hearing.
Hess then asked if the agreement could be rewritten to include that the daughters couldn’t sue him.
Troy Schluechtermann didn’t attend Wednesday’s hearing. Hess, who attended by phone from Chippewa Valley Correctional Treatment Facility, couldn’t be reached for comment after the hearing.
The case went to mediation in October.
The crash, criminal case
At about 6:25 a.m. on April 2, 2012, Hess was driving on 6 Mile Road near Foley Road when he side-swiped a car before colliding head on with Schluechtermann’s van, according to Hess’ criminal complaint. Michelle Schluechtermann was thrown from the van and died from massive blunt-force injuries, according to the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Hess’ blood contained oxycodone, hydromorphone and methadone, his complaint states.
Hess was sentenced in January to four years in prison plus five years on extended supervision. Hess pleaded no contest in September 2013 to homicide by use of a vehicle under the influence of controlled substances.