Woman demands justice in son's ATV death

By John O'Brien | Feb 23, 2006

CHARLESTON - A Logan woman is suing the three previous owners of the land her son wrecked an all-terrain vehicle on in April 2005, causing his death.

Tammy Conley's 13-year-old son John Cody Conley was riding his four-wheeler in Logan County when a cable struck his neck, resulting in the trauma that led to his death, she says in a lawsuit filed in Kanawha Circuit Court on Jan. 27.

Conley is suing the current owner of the land, Jerry Stollings, as well as two previous owners she believes may have placed the cable in an area that ATV riders were known to frequent with the express desire to slow ATV riders.

She also lists Cabot Oil and Gas Corporation as a defendant because she believes Cabot had an agreement with one or more of the defendants to use and control the property for their own benefit.

The property was owned by the West Virginia Division of Transportation, Division of Highways, until Nov. 9, 1999, when Joseph Richards, Steven R. Richards and Cynthia Richards became owners. On Feb. 17, 2005, Jerry Stollings became the owner.

Conley, who is represented by John Einreinhofer, is seeking a trial by jury against those defendants and compensatory and punitive damages in an amount determined by the court.

The property at which her son's wreck occurred is located at Crawley Creek near U.S. 119 and, Conley says, one or more of the defendants considered replacing the cable with a gate, providing a greater degree of safety for individuals passing on motorized vehicles.

That never happened, she says, and the cable "was negligently placed, and negligently permitted to stay in place by the defendants.

Conley adds that others had nearly suffered significant injury from the same cable prior to her son's accident.

"As a further direct and proximate result of the defendants' negligent conduct, the plaintiff's decedent was killed," the claim states, "proximately causing his mother, Tammy Conley, and father, John Conley, and next of kin to suffer damages including but not limited to: Sorrow; grief, mental anguish and solace, including loss of society, companionship, comfort, guidance, kindly offices and advice of the decedent; statutory heirs suffered sorrow and incurred medical and hospital expenses rendered for the decedent prior to his death and for funeral and burial expenses."

The claim also lists a loss of future income, enjoyment of life, services, protection, care and assistance.

Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey Walker has been assigned the case.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 06-C-148

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