Virginia Attorney Obtains $1 Million Settlement for Estate of Woman Killed in a Drunk Driving Accident

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Wrongful death claim was filed by Petersburg attorney Charles H. Cuthbert Jr.

Ms. Jones died a tragic death and it is a disheartening that those responsible for her death were not initially willing to accept their responsibility

A $1 million wrongful death settlement has been obtained on behalf of the family of a South Richmond woman who was killed by a drunk driver on May 24, 2008.

Kathryn Jones, 44, was fatally injured when a truck driven by Carmen Alejandro Garcia-Hernandez left a residential roadway and hit a parked vehicle. The parked vehicle spun around and struck Ms. Jones, who was standing in a front yard during a Memorial Day gathering. A man standing with Ms. Jones, Joseph Owens, 44, was also struck and killed.

The survivors of Ms. Jones, represented by Charles H. Cuthbert, Jr. of Cuthbert Law Offices in Petersburg, VA, filed suit against the driver and his employer, R.J. Biringer Construction Co. Inc., to whom the truck was registered.

Ms. Jones, who worked as a security guard, is survived by a 17-year-old daughter and a 26-year-old son.

"Ms. Jones died a tragic death and it is a disheartening that those responsible for her death were not initially willing to accept their responsibility," said Mr. Cuthbert. "This settlement will help her children and family deal with their loss and provide them a sense of closure."

The chief contested issue involved permissive use. In the days after Ms. Jones was killed, the construction company's owner, Ronald J. Biringer, claimed Garcia-Hernandez had used the company truck in violation of Mr. Biringer's explicit instructions to return the truck to the workplace at the end of the Saturday work day. The accident happened at 11:15 p.m. that Saturday on the long Memorial Day weekend.

Several complications made it particularly difficult for Cuthbert to prove permission. To begin with, all of the plaintiff's witnesses spoke little or no English, and the testimony of a pivotal eyewitness, speaking through an interpreter, seemed to change each time he was questioned. Furthermore, the key defense witness was under federal indictment for alleged immigration offenses but the court record was sealed. This limited Cuthbert's ability to attack the witness' credibility.

Nonetheless, after months of investigation and negotiation, Biringer Construction's insurer, Erie Insurance Exchange, agreed to a $1 million settlement with the estate of Ms. Jones.

The case is Constance D. Ragsdale, et al., v. Carmen Alejandro Garcia-Hernandez and R.J. Biringer Construction Co., Inc. (Richmond Circuit Court; Case No. CL08-2887).

About Cuthbert Law Offices

For more than 30 years, Cuthbert Law Offices has successfully litigated cases for clients and their families throughout Virginia. The firm handles personal injury claims including car and truck accidents, medical malpractice and wrongful deaths. The firm also helps clients obtain disability benefits that the Social Security Administration has denied.

Charles H. Cuthbert, Jr., firm partner, focuses his practice on representing victims of serious injuries. He is a graduate of Harvard College. He received a joint JD/MBA degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. He is a member of the bars in Virginia and North Carolina as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals 4th Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court.

To contact Cuthbert Law Offices, telephone the Petersburg Office at (804) 733-3100 or the Richmond office at (804) 643-3100 or reach the firm online with the electronic contact form at http://www.cuthbertlaw.com/contact-us.asp.

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