Suit seeks to place blame for 2011 crash

-A A +A
By Calen McKinney

Though one person has been dismissed from the lawsuit, a battle to determine who of the remaining defendants is responsible continues.

In July 2012, a Louisville insurance company filed suit against the city, claiming that it failed to maintain vegetation around a stop sign, and that caused a crash on South Central Avenue.

Since then, many claims have been filed stating that as many as four parties are responsible for causing the crash.

Louisville attorney Craig Hazelet Clark filed suit in Taylor Circuit Court on behalf of American National Property & Casualty Co. of Louisville. The city of Campbellsville is listed as the defendant.

According to the claim, ANPAC provides insurance for Jody Gomez, the owner of a vehicle that was involved in a crash in Campbellsville on April 23, 2011.

The claim alleges that at the intersection of South Central Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, the city allowed vegetation to grow and obscure the visibility of the stop sign.

ANPAC claims that the city's failure led to a collision between Gomez's vehicle, which was being driven by Zachary C. Warner, and another vehicle being driven by Gregory H. Tungate.

The claim alleges the collision caused damage to Gomez's vehicle and injury to the passengers.

As a result of the collision, the claim alleges, ANPAC paid damages that totaled $38,228.61. ANPAC claims the city is responsible for those damages and asks that it be reimbursed for them. ANPAC is also asking for interest and court costs.

In a response filed a month later, the city denied any wrongdoing and asked that the claim be dismissed.

In June, Elizabethtown attorney Jason Bell, who is representing the city, filed a third-party complaint in the case, alleging three other people are responsible for the collision.

The city is listed as the plaintiff in the third-party complaint, and Zac Warner of California, Shelbie Jeane Bryant of Sheridan Drive in Campbellsville and Priscilla Thomas of U.S. 68 in Lebanon are listed as the defendants.

According to the complaint, the city alleges that Warner failed to yield the right of way and drive at a reasonable speed, which contributed to the crash.

The complaint also alleges that Bryant and Thomas own the property adjacent to the South Central Avenue and the MLK intersection, and, as such, they are responsible for keeping the property maintained.

The city asked that the claim against it be dismissed and it be reimbursed for court costs and attorney's fees.

Elizabethtown attorney Kim Quick filed a response on Warner's behalf, claiming that the city, Bryant and Thomas are those responsible for the crash. Quick asks that the claim against Warner be dismissed.

Bryant and Thomas have also denied responsibility for the crash, in an answer filed by their attorney, John Bertram of Campbellsville.

And, on the same day their answer was filed, they filed a motion asking to be dismissed from the lawsuit altogether.

According to the motion, any claim against them now would be barred by the statute of limitations for property damages, which is two years.

In early August, Quick filed a motion on Warner's behalf, asking that the claim against him be dismissed.

According to that motion, Quick claims that the correct procedure is to dismiss the third-party complaint and allow a jury to decide an apportionment of fault in the case. That way, she states, the city would only pay for its fault in the case, and the third-party defendants would be dismissed from the suit.

On Aug. 9, Bell filed a response, stating that the city has no objection to Warner being dismissed from the claim.

Six days later, Louisville attorney Craig Clark filed an objection to dismissing the third-party complaint.

In his response, he states that ANPAC has a viable complaint against Bryant and Thomas. Clark states that the two had a duty to maintain their property to avoid a public nuisance. By not keeping the property maintained, Clark alleges, the two created an imminent threat to those coming near their land.

And Clark claims that the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit like the one against Bryant and Thomas is five years, not two.

On Aug. 20, Taylor Circuit Court Judge Dan Kelly denied the motion to dismiss Bryant and Thomas from the suit.

However, Kelly granted Warner's request to be dismissed from the case. He stated that Warner can be included as a party jurors can attribute a portion of guilt, if proof is presented to prove his negligence.

Also on Aug. 20, ANPAC amended its original complaint. They claim the city failed to follow the proper procedure to abate a nuisance at the MLK intersection. And that, ANPAC claims, caused the crash.

ANPAC also claims that Bryant and Thomas were also responsible for maintaining the property. They negligently allowed the area to grow excessively, ANPAC claims, and, as such, are also liable for the crash.

ANPAC has asked that the city, Bryant and Thomas be ordered to jointly pay the $38,228.61 it is owed.

A day after the amended complaint was filed, Bell denied the claims on the city's behalf.

Bryant and Thomas haven't yet formally responded to the amended complaint.

As of press time, there were no upcoming court dates set in the case.

• A lawsuit presents only one side of a case.