NEW MARTINSVILLE -- The family of a man killed in a 2003 drunken driving accident recently was awarded more than $8.3 million.
On Oct. 31, a Wetzel County jury deliberated for just over an hour before returning the verdict, according to a press release from the Wheeling firm of Bordas & Bordas, which represented the family of Charles "Chick" Clegg, who was killed in the accident.
The verdict included $7.51 million in wrongful death damages and $850,000 in punitive damages.
Clegg, 53, was killed when a car driven by Robert Gaiser crossed the centerline on W.Va. 2 and struck his Dodge pickup truck near New Martinsville, the release states. The truck rolled over and the roof caved in, killing Clegg.
Gaiser had multiple prior DUIs and went to prison for the accident that killed Clegg, the release states. Gaiser since has been released. Despite the previous DUIs, the release says Gaiser, 46, was sold a car insurance policy by Prudential, which refused to pay its $50,000 policy limit to the Clegg family.
Insurance companies can't be sued directly for damages caused by a client. But the Clegg family has a case pending against Prudential -- which later was bought out by Liberty Mutual -- for failing to settle with them in a timely manner.
"Chick Clegg was 53 years old when he was taken from his family," Bordas & Bordas partner Scott Blass said in the release. "The jury's verdict in this case demonstrates the enormity of the loss suffered by Chick's family.
"Not only did the Clegg family lose a husband, father, grandfather and brother, the community lost a good man who has been and will continue to be sorely missed."
Clegg is survived by his wife, son, daughter and sister. Clegg's wife, Gayle, was awarded $3 million for pain and suffering. His children got $1 million each, and his sister got a million. The jury also awarded $10,867 for funeral bills in addition to the punitive damages.
The three-day trial was heard by Wetzel Circuit Judge John Madden. Gaiser, of Wheeling, was represented by Gerald Hutton of the Pittsburg law firm of Bashline and Hutton.