Lawsuits Over Accident Bring $2 Million Settlement

April 12, 1992|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff writer

Damages awarded in suits filed over an accident involving an Office on Aging van and a pick-up truck were incorrectly reported April 12. The correct amounts: Casimer J. Szymanowicz estate, $28,803; Iona Pierce estate, $18,984; Courtney Brooks, $43,205; Martha S. Bodycombe, $34,695; Julius Blair, $38,623; Margery I. Lowekamp, $31,422; and Selma B. Miller, $30,767.

Seven individuals and families that filed lawsuits over an accident involving a county Office on Aging van and a pickup truck will split about $2 million in an out-of-court settlement.

The five injured passengers and the families of two people killedin the Dublin accident originally sought a total of $36 million in seven separate lawsuits.

The state, Harford County and the drivers of the two vehicles involved in the accident were named as defendantsin the suits, filed between Oct. 3, 1990 and July 15, 1991. The suits accused the two drivers of negligence in the May 1, 1990 crash, andcontended that the county and state maintained an unsafe intersection.

The agreement requires all of the defendants to share in the settlement payment, but the parties have agreed not to disclose the amount they will pay individually, Assistant County Attorney Paula S. Etting said.

The settlement, outlined in an April 2 order by CircuitJudge Albert P. Close, divided the damages each passenger received between the economic and non-economic effects of the accident. Economic damages cover expenses for hospital treatment and visits to doctors. Non-economic damages cover such factors as mental anguish, embarrassment caused by injuries and stress on families.

All the passengers were hospitalized as a result of the collision, court records say. Two of the surviving passengers have since moved into a nursing home as a result of their injuries. The other passengers are receiving special care by their families. One of the injured passengers had to sleep upright in a lounge chair for about five months because of injuries, court records say.

Here are the amounts the van's passengers ortheir families requested in the suits and what they were awarded in the settlement:

* The estate of Casimer J. Szymanowicz, a 72-year-old Darlington resident killed in the accident, sought $500,000 from each of the four defendants. The family was awarded $246,224.

* The estate of Iona R. Pierce, a 73-year-old Darlington resident killed in the accident, sought $1 million from each of the defendants. The family was awarded $238,692.

* Courtney Brooks, 89, of Darlington, sought $750,000 from each of the defendants. She was awarded $345,835.

* Martha S. Bodycombe, 81, of Darlington, sought $500,000 from each of the defendants. She was awarded $314,004.

* Julius Blair, 66, of Churchville, sought $5 million from each of the defendants. He was awarded $306,311.

* Margery Idabelle Lowekamp, 86, of Bel Air,sought $1 million from each of the defendants. She was awarded $265,516.

* Selma B. Miller, 83, of Darlington, sought $250,000 from each of the defendants. She was awarded $236,913.

A state police report of the accident says the van carrying the senior citizens collided with a pickup truck driven by David S. Gorrell of Forest Hill at routes 136 and 440.

The van driver, Leilonie T. Baer, was found guilty of negligent driving, according to District Court records. Gorrell, the truck driver, was not charged.

Baer had stopped the van at astop sign on Route 440 and then proceeded through the intersection, police said. While in the intersection, the van was struck by Gorrell's pickup.

Baer told police she did not see the truck when she stopped at the intersection, court records say. The suits contended thatGorrell was driving between 40 and 50 mph in a 30-mph zone.

The county and Baer filed countersuits against Gorrell and the state. Meanwhile, Gorrell filed a claim against Baer and the county. Those suitshave been dropped as part of the settlement.

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