CHARLESTON - A former sergeant with the West Virginia State Police is suing the agency, the Commission on Drunk Driving Prevention and J. Mattman Security for injuries he sustained from an allegedly dangerous BAT Mobile.

David Hawkins of Upshur County, his wife Kim and three children Tyler, Ashley and Chase filed the lawsuit July 18 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

He says a wayward latch on the door of the Breath Alcohol Testing Mobile caused him an injury that forced him to retire.

"David Hawkins has been forced to retire with a disability retirement as he can longer perform his job as a sergeant," the complaint says.

Hawkins says in summer of 2001, the Commission on Drunk Driving Prevention purchased a BAT Mobile from J. Mattman Security that had a hazardous latch on the door.

"Shortly after its purchase and delivery, Sgt. David Hawkins and others discovered that the BAT Mobile was defective in that it contained a latch on the door frame which protruded into the doorway creating a hazard," the complaint says.

"On numerous occasions, officers utilizing the BAT Mobile caught their sleeves on the latch as they exited the BAT Mobile."

Hawkins says he was severely and permanently injured by the latch after it was not repaired despite repeated requests to do so.

His wife says she has lost the society, comfort and advice of her husband, as do his children.

He is seeking compensatory damages for medical expenses, the loss of enjoyment of life, lost wages, loss of earning capacity and pain and suffering.

G. Thomas Smith of Clarksburg law firm Smith, McMunn and Glover is representing the plaintiffs.

Judge Jennifer Bailey Walker has been assigned the case.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 06-C-1404

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