Jackson County couple claims defendant tried to discourage legal action

CHARLESTON – A Jackson County couple says a man responsible for a 2004 automobile accident subsequently tried to discourage them from taking legal action. In a lawsuit filed Jan. 11 in Kanawha Circuit Court, Wendy and Michael England blame Richard B. Sellers, also a resident of Jackson County, for an accident near the intersection of interstates 77 and 79 in Charleston. They say Sellers' 1991 Honda Accord collided with their 2001 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, causing Wendy England to be injured. The suit goes on to allege that Sellers "negligently and recklessly exchanged certain information" with some unnamed defendants that they say they are informed and believe to be friends, associates and/or co-workers of Sellers. In the suit, the couple says they will name these unknown defendants as their identities become available through the course of discovery. The couple says, these unnamed people "negligently and recklessly communicated" with the plaintiffs and/or witnesses "in a manner which could be reasonably expected to discourage a reasonable individual from pursuing a remedy for her injuries, such as the instant lawsuit, and/or from providing truthful testimony as to the events of January 15, 2004; and that it was reasonably foreseeable to defendant, Richard B. Sellers, that defendants, John Does 1-10, would make such a contact to the plaintiffs and/or witnesses." The Englands also say Sellers himself directly communicated with them and/or witnesses in the same manner. These communications, the couple claims, resulted in severe emotional distress and further resulted in their financial loss, annoyance and inconvenience due to, they believe, spoliation of evidence. In the suit, the couple says a telephone call they received in May 2005 from an unknown person was a result of an agreement between Sellers and these unnamed defendants "to suppress and/or to influence the testimony" of the plaintiffs and witnesses. The Englands allege they have been material damaged by the actions of the defendants, namely anguish and emotional distress. They also say they have suffered extraordinary inconvenience and annoyance in trying "to obtain a lawful remedy for their underlying injuries." Wendy England suffered pain and injury, according to the lawsuit filed by Charleston attorney David R. Karr Jr. Also, she incurred substantial medical bills. The couple's car was destroyed, and Michael England claims a loss of consortium and services. They seek a judgment jointly and severally against the defendants to compensate them for their injuries, including punitive damages, attorney fees, court costs and other relief deemed proper by the court. They also request a jury trial. The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Duke Bloom. Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 06-C-45

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