Family hurt in auto crash files lawsuit against state

April 02, 1995|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,Sun Staff Writer

A Fallston family has filed a $5 million lawsuit against the state, alleging that a visually impaired and deaf drunken driver who struck a car and forced it into a head-on collision with their van should not have been licensed to drive.

Robert L. Kline III, a Reisterstown lawyer, filed a civil complaint in Harford Circuit Court Wednesday for Pietro Joseph Raimondi; his wife, Mary, and their son Vincent, all of the 3400 block of Widows Care in Fallston.

The Raimondis' suit says their 1992 Ford Aerostar van was struck June 9, 1993, on Route 152 by a 1986 Cadillac driven by Doris M. Poulsen of Joppa.

A 1984 Chrysler driven by Daniel Lee Jones of Rising Sun had slammed into the back of the Cadillac, forcing it into the path of the Raimondi van, the lawsuit claims.

Jones pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated in Harford District Court on Dec. 16, 1993.

He was fined $500 and sentenced to a year in prison, District court records show.

Because of her injuries, Mrs. Poulsen retired as secretary to the Harford County Council. On Nov. 28, she filed suit against the state and the Motor Vehicle Administration. Her husband, William, is a co-plaintiff. The state and five high-level state and MVA officials were named as co-defendants.

That suit seeks $2.5 million in damages and also alleges that Motor Vehicle Administration officials were negligent in allowing Jones to continue to drive.

The Raimondis' lawsuit says Jones has impaired vision in one eye; is hearing-impaired; has refused multiple chemical tests; and is suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol at least two other times.

It also says he had two alcohol restrictions placed on his license -- one at the request of the MVA's medical advisory board -- as a result of alcohol-related incidents and his refusal to submit to chemical tests.

MVA officials knew Jones had physical impairments and a history of alcohol violations and negligently issued him a driver's license, renewed the license after numerous violations and failed to revoke it, the lawsuit contends.

Mr. Kline said Mr. Raimondi's medical bills are nearing $500,000 for complications from a broken hip suffered in the accident.

Mrs. Raimondi and Vincent sustained head injuries, Mr. Kline said.

"She now suffers from vertigo, and Vincent has lost feeling in his hand," Mr. Kline said.

MVA records obtained by The Sun when Mrs. Poulsen's suit was filed showed that Jones had 12 points on his driving record and that his license to drive was revoked Feb. 25, 1994.

MVA officials declined to comment on the cases, an agency spokesman said.

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