Former state Supreme Court Justice Warren McGraw speaks at the annual Labor Day picnic in Racine in Boone County. McGraw says an April 2004 car accident in Greenbrier County is partly to blame for his loss in that year’s General Election to Brent Benjamin, according to a recently filed lawsuit.
LEWISBURG – Former state Supreme Court Justice Warren McGraw says his loss in the 2004 election was partly to blame on a vehicle accident and ensuing video footage of him “grimacing with pain” during a campaign speech.
McGraw filed a lawsuit April 21 in Greenbrier Circuit Court against John R. Tugman and William C. Starcher Inc. McGraw’s son Randolph is representing him.
McGraw, the brother of state Attorney General Darrell McGraw, seeks a jury trial and monetary relief of more than $100,000, according to court documents.
And interestingly, the case has been assigned to Greenbrier Circuit Judge Jim Rowe, who unsuccessfully ran against McGraw in the 2004 Democratic primary for the state Supreme Court seat that McGraw lost to Brent Benjamin that fall in the General Election.
McGraw’s suit claims Tugman, an employee of William C. Starcher Inc., rear-ended McGraw on April 22, 2004, in Greenbrier County while McGraw was en route to give a speech at a political campaign rally. William C. Starcher Inc. is a Spencer-based welding distribution company that has been in business since 1938.
At the time of the accident, newspaper reports indicated that McGraw was traveling to speak to the White Sulphur Springs Rotary Club. He was traveling with documentary filmmaker Wayne Ewing, but it was unclear who was driving the vehicle. However, newspaper reports said McGraw’s campaign appearances were canceled for a few days after the accident.
“After the accident, the plaintiff was transported to a hospital,” the suit states. “Later, during a campaign speech, the plaintiff who continued to suffer from pain was overcome with pain and forced to lean forward while holding his back and grimacing with pain. A member of Mr. McGraw’s opponent’s staff was in attendance at the political rally and filmed Mr. McGraw grimacing with pain during his speech. The footage was then used in a political ad against Mr. McGraw that was broadcast across the state of West Virginia prior to the election.
“Due to the defendants’ negligence in causing the automobile accident and severely injuring the plaintiff, plaintiff was portrayed in an extremely negative light due to the footage form the political rally filmed after the accident. Due in part to defendants’ actions, Mr. McGraw lost the election, whereby losing his job and his yearly salary for the 12-year term.”
McGraw seeks compensatory and punitive damages as well as attorney fees, court costs and other damages. The complaint says McGraw continues to suffer from the injuries he sustained in the accident and still requires medical care and treatment for the injuries.
Greenbrier Circuit Court case number: 06-C-91