The widow of a man who was killed when a sport utility vehicle backed into him at Cape Elizabeth’s recycling center has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver and the town.

Herbert Dennison, 79, was disposing of his trash in November 2014 when he was struck and killed by a Ford Explorer driven by 72-year-old Christine Sharp-Lopez of Cape Elizabeth. The impact knocked Dennison, the town’s former public works director, into the trash hopper.

In her lawsuit, Katherine Dennison claims she suffered extensive pain and suffering and financial hardship as a result of her husband’s death. The lawsuit claims Cape Elizabeth is responsible because the center’s trash-disposal plan required drivers to back their vehicles into the garbage disposal area, where pedestrians were also present, according to the lawsuit.

Dennison is seeking $500,000 in damages.

Sharp-Lopez was not charged in the accident. After Dennison’s death, the Town Council requested a comprehensive review of the facility, which had been operating in a similar manner since the mid-1970s.

Several months after the accident, a new traffic pattern went into effect at the transfer station on Dennison Road, which was named after the former public works director. Residents are no longer allowed to back into the compactor building to get rid of their trash. Instead, drivers form a line and pull forward into one of four dropoff spaces, from which they carry their garbage to the hopper. Carts are available to help residents get their trash to the hopper.


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