Car accident proves costly for Wingate Ex-Dunbar star, nephew must pay more than $700,000 in damages

August 09, 1996|By Caitlin Francke | Caitlin Francke,SUN STAFF

Former Dunbar standout and current NBA player David Wingate and his nephew must pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages to an Ellicott City woman who was struck by a car owned by Wingate, a Howard County Circuit Court jury decided yesterday.

After deliberating about two hours, the jury awarded Laura Holt $893,098 for injuries she sustained in an Oct. 22, 1990, accident. That morning, Holt was riding her bicycle with her 5-year-old daughter on a Columbia road when Wingate's nephew Gregory Green -- driving Wingate's Jaguar -- hit her.

A Circuit Court judge indicated that the jury award would be reduced to $719,991 because part of it exceeded the statutory limit for non-economic damages.

Holt -- who now walks with a cane and may have to have her right leg amputated below the knee -- said the money could never compensate for her agony.

"If it was just a matter of the car being destroyed, you can get another car, but when it's your body, you're stuck with it," said Holt, 40.

One of Wingate's attorneys, Robert L. Simmons, refused to comment as he left the courtroom.

Both Wingate, who plays for the Seattle SuperSonics, and Green, who was 20 at the time of the accident, were held liable at a September trial because Maryland law has a presumption that a person driving the car is an agent of the owner, said Perry Lericos, Holt's attorney.

Lericos said Green had driven a friend of Wingate's to work before he hit Holt, who was riding along Little Patuxent Parkway.

The car struck Holt as she was turning into a driveway. The impact sent her onto the windshield, but the car continued forward, turning 180 degrees and then dumping her in the middle of the road, Lericos said.

Her daughter, Gina, flew off the back of the bike still strapped in her bike seat and landed in the driveway, he said.

Holt spent 70 days in the hospital after suffering a broken collarbone and seven fractured ribs. A chunk of her right calf was ripped away in the accident. Because of the injuries, she could not complete her urban studies degree at the University of Maryland and now is a receptionist, Lericos said.

"Not only did her bones get shattered, but her opportunities and her dreams were shattered," Lericos said.

Pub Date: 8/09/96

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