Woman sues two estates, 7-Eleven over deaths of husband, children

By Cara Bailey | Feb 27, 2007

CHARLESTON - A Kanawha County woman has filed a suit against the estates of two men who she claims are responsible for the death of her husband and two children.

Whitney Shamblin filed a suit Feb. 20 in Kanawha Circuit Court against the Sheriff of Kanawha County, who is the personal representative for the estates of Paul Bernard George and Gary Lee Holstein. She filed on behalf of Jeremy, Cody and Haylee Shamblin, who died in a wreck on Interstate 79 in Braxton County in 2005.

Also names as defendants in the suit are 7-Eleven, The Southland Corporation and Prima Marketing doing business as Oakwood Chevron.

On Dec. 15, 2005, Jeremy Shamblin and his 7-year-old children Cody James Shamblin and Haylee Dawn Shamblin were on I-79 on their way to a Christmas Nativity play in Putnam County.

The suit says Paul Bernard George was driving the wrong direction on I-79 while under the influence of alcohol with a 0.23 percent blood alcohol level.

George struck Shamblin, "causing a fire which incinerated Jeremy Lee Shamblin and his two children, Cody and Haylee," the suit says.

The suit also says Holstein, also under the influence of alcohol with a 0.25 percent blood alcohol level, encouraged George's intoxication. The West Virginia state limit for blood alcohol is 0.10 percent. Holstein was a passenger in Holstein's vehicle.

The suit states that on Dec. 15, employees at the 7-Eleven located on Oakwood Road in Charleston provided George and Holstein with alcohol and observed them in the parking lot for two hours, "consuming alcoholic beverages from open containers in a visibly intoxicated state."

The defendants 7-Eleven, Southland and Prima have admitted George and Holstein were drinking from 2 to 4 p.m., while independent witnesses stated they saw George and Holstein in the parking lot drinking from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., which "if accurate, constitutes evidence of aggravating circumstances for which defendants 7-Eleven, Southland and Prima should be held legally accountable," the suit says.

The suit says the defendants should have known George and Holstein were alcoholics, should not have continuously served them alcoholic beverages and should have known it is against the law for people to drink from open containers in public.

The defendants have admitted George and Holstein were drinking in their parking lot until 4 p.m., "the approximate time at which George and Holstein began to drive north on I-79, making it apparent that the extreme degree of alcohol intoxication of defendant George and defendant Holstein was a direct proximate result of their consumption of alcoholic beverages at the 7-Eleven store parking lot on Oakwood Road and not the result of alcohol consumption occurring elsewhere," the complaint states.

Whitney Shamblin seeks compensation for loss of care and wages and funeral expenses, as well as punitive damages for the conduct of the defendants.

Christopher J. Heavens represents Shamblin. The case has been assigned to Judge Louis Bloom.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 07-C-318

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