2 sisters awarded almost $800,000 in crash COUNTYWIDE

November 12, 1992|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Staff Writer

An Anne Arundel Circuit Court jury has ordered the State Highway Administration and a Chapelgate motorist to pay almost $800,000 in damages to two women injured in a 1989 car accident along a rain-slicked portion of Dorsey Road.

Anna Connors, 62, of Wright Road, Hanover, was awarded $564,200 and her sister, Martha J. Marris, 58, of Morgantown, W. Va., won $234,100 after a two-week trial before Judge H. Chester Goudy Jr.

Monday's award requires payment by the state and the other driver involved in the accident, Willie James Oaks of Chapelgate, to go jointly to both women and their husbands, Herbert Connors and Steven Marris.

Much of the trial focused on conditions along the portion of Dorsey Road where the accident occurred. The site had been the scene of periodic flooding since being widened by

the State Highway Administration about a year before the accident. The plaintiffs alleged that poor design work contributed to the accident.

The jury agreed, deliberating about eight hours before finding that "an unreasonable flow of water" contributed to the accident on July 5, 1989, that injured the women as they drove to a local bank.

"I think if anything, the jury sent out a message that the people of this state will not tolerate an attitude that there is an acceptable level of accident frequency on our highways," said Joseph A. Miklasz, the Glen Burnie attorney representing Mrs. Connors.

According to testimony, Mrs. Marris was driving her Chrysler mini-van east along Dorsey Road at about 2:40 p.m., about a quarter-mile east of Interstate 295, when a rented Ford Tiempo being driven west by Mr. Oaks spun 180 degrees and struck the van.

Four people were injured.

Mr. Oaks, who was 24 at the time, was taken to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he remained unconscious for three weeks.

Mrs. Connors spent 15 days in the hospital, suffering a concussion, a brain lesion, and a broken arm, elbow, wrist and ribs.

Mrs. Marris was at the Shock Trauma Center for four days with severe head injuries, broken ribs, a collapsed lung and a fractured sternum. Her 5-year-old granddaughter, a passenger in the van, suffered minor injuries.

Two neighbors who live along the road, Gloria Daily and Hazel Sewell, both of Hanover, testified that since the road was widened, it had been hazardous and was the site of frequent accidents.

SHA statistics showed that there were an average of 14 accidents a year along the road and that the July 5 crash was the ninth one in 1989.

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