Pickup Driver Files Suits In County Van Accident

January 13, 1991|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff writer

The driver of a pickup truck that collided with a county Office on Aging van in Dublin last May has filed a counter suit against the county and the driver of the van.

David S. Gorrell of Forest Hill is seeking $300,000 in damages, according to cross claims filed on Jan. 4in county Circuit Court.

Gorrell is named as a co-defendant in six circuit court suits that have been filed as a result of the May 1 accident, in which two senior citizens were killed and five others injured. They were riding inthe county van.

The six plaintiffs -- five injured passengers andthe family of one person killed in the accident -- are seeking a total of $13.5 million from the county, Gorrell and Leilonie T. Baer, driver of the county van.

But Assistant County Attorney Paula S. Etting said state statutes limit plaintiffs suing a county from receiving more than $500,000 in damages. In this case, the six plaintiffs andGorrell would have to split the settlement if they win their suits, she said.

Gorrell has filed cross claims in each of the six suits.He is seeking $25,000 from Baer and the county in each of the claims.

In the cross claims, Gorrell contends that Baer caused the accident by failing to keep a proper lookout for oncoming traffic and failing to yield the right-of-way.

Michael E. Leaf, a Bel Air attorneyrepresenting Gorrell, has already filed motions asking the court to dismiss the suits against Gorrell, contending that Baer caused the accident.

Baer was found guilty of negligent driving, according to county District Court records.

Attorneys representing the county and Baer, meanwhile, contend in responses to the suits that the accident was caused by Gorrell's negligence.

Leaf also filed a motion asking the court to consolidate the six suits and Gorrell's cross claim.

"We're trying to conserve everyone's time and energy," Leaf said.

The suits filed by the van's passengers against the county, Gorrell and Baer include:

* Courtney M. Brooks of Darlington is seeking$750,000 from each of the defendants. Her suit was filed Oct. 3.

* The estate of Iona R. Pierce of Darlington, who was killed in the accident, is seeking $1 million from each of the defendants. The suit was filed Nov. 2.

* Selma B. Miller of Darlington is seeking $250,000 from each of the three defendants. Her suit was filed Nov. 15.

* Martha Bodycombe of Darlington is seeking $500,000 from each of the the defendants. Her suit was filed Nov. 15.

* Julius Blair of Churchville is seeking a total of $5 million. The suit, filed Nov. 21, does not specify damages for each defendant.

* Margery I. Lowekampof Bel Air is seeking $1 million. Her suit, filed Dec. 12, also doesnot specify damages for each defendant.

The estate of a second passenger who was killed, Casimier Szymanowicz, 72, of Darlington, has not filed a suit.

In the accident, Gorrell's truck and the county van collided at the intersection of routes 136 and 440, a state police accident report says.

Baer stopped the Office on Aging van, which is used to transport senior citizens, at a stop sign on Route 440 and then proceeded through the intersection, the report said. While in the intersection, the van was struck by Gorrell's truck, police said.

Baer told police that she did not see the truck when she stopped at the intersection, the report says.

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