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 lawsuit filed in April.
LEWISBURG – The truck driver sued earlier this year by former state Supreme Court Justice Warren McGraw is on active duty with the U.S. Navy about to be deployed to Iraq.
McGraw filed the lawsuit in April in Greenbrier County. The suit stemmed from an automobile accident he had while on the campaign trail in April 2004 in Greenbrier County. McGraw claims the accident, in part, was to blame for his loss in that fall’s general election.
McGraw’s suit claims John 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. Starcher is a Spencer-based welding distribution company that has been in business since 1938.
Although the case was filed in April, the defendants weren’t served until August. Starcher had not replied to the suit earlier this week.
But David L. Tugman, John’s father, did respond to Greenbrier Circuit Clerk Louvonne Arbuckle in the form of an Aug. 20 letter from his home in Palestine, Wirt County.
In the letter, he says he was served a summons on Aug. 17 by Sgt. Peck of the Wirt County Sheriff’s Department.
“I informed Sgt. Peck that my son, who is a defendant in this civil action, was not at home, but was on active duty with the United States Navy,” the elder Tugman wrote. “He is stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, with the Second Marine Division and is currently deployed on a training mission in preparation to return to Iraq in January 2007. Sgt. Peck advised me to send you a letter advising you of this.”
David Tugman also wrote that he was sending a copy of the summons to his son “so he can turn it in to Base legal at Camp Lejeune when he returns.”
McGraw claims his loss in the 2004 election was partly to blame on the vehicle accident and ensuing video footage of him “grimacing with pain” during a campaign speech.
At the time of the accident, newspaper reports indicated 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 complaint 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.”
While it doesn’t mention it directly, McGraw’s lawsuit almost certainly refers to footage of his speech at the 2004 Racine Labor Day rally.
That speech, which became known in some circles as the “Scream from Racine,” was compared to the infamous speech given by 2004 Presidential candidate Howard Dean that many say doomed his campaign.
During the seven-minute speech, McGraw — dressed in an American flag shirt — talks about how he was followed to the annual Boone County holiday event by his opponent’s staff “looking for ugly” and looking to take ugly pictures of him.
McGraw says the images portrayed him in an extremely negative light. He says that the footage in part is to blame for his loss, and he seeks his yearly salary for the 12-year Supreme Court term in the suit.
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. McGraw’s son Randolph is representing him.
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