Pa. woman loses punitives claim, settles car crash suit

By John O'Brien | Apr 30, 2013

CLARKSBURG – After losing her claim for punitive damages, a Pennsylvania woman has settled her lawsuit over a 2011 car crash on Interstate 68.

Tiffany L. White sued Swift Transportation Co. of Arizona and truck driver Nicholas Estabrooks in 2011 in Preston County, alleging that she deserved punitive and compensatory damages as a result of collision caused by Estabrooks on a snowy Interstate 68 on March 6, 2011.

U.S. District Judge Irene M. Keeley signed a dismissal order noting the confidential settlement on April 16. She had ruled March 15 that White could not seek punitive damages.

“(T)he only evidence White offers in support of her punitive damages claim is Estabrooks’ admission of ordinary negligence and his statement to the responding officer that he was ‘passing other vehicles’ before the collision,” Keeley’s order says.

“(A) nonmoving party must nonetheless offer some ‘concrete evidence from which a reasonable juror could return a verdict in his (or her) favor.’

“Here, the record simply contains no indiction of behavior rising to the required degree of egregiousness. Even drawing all possible interferences in the favor of the plaintiff, as this court has done, the undisputed facts of this case reflect nothing more than a garden-variety negligence claim.”

Eastabrook was an employee of Swift when he collided with the rear of White’s vehicle, causing her to be transported to West Virginia University Hospital with a closed head injury. She was released the same day of the accident.

The wreck happened in the late afternoon while there was still daylight in snowy conditions. Estabrooks’ tractor-trailer featured a power unit that permitted a maximum speed of 62 miles per hour.

He was cited for failure to maintain control and driving too fast for conditions and pleaded no contest to the charges.

Swift filed its motion for summary judgment on Jan. 31.

“(T)he roadway surface was described as both ‘straight’ and ‘level,’” it says. “As such, given the road conditions and speed limitations of the power unit, Plaintiff has still been unable to establish that Mr. Estabrooks was, in fact, speeding or driving in a reckless manner.”

The defendants were represented by Melvin F. O’Brien of Dickie, McCarney & Chilcote in Wheeling.

White was represented by George B. Armistead of Baker & Armistead in Morgantown.

From the West Virginia Record: Reach John O’Brien at

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