Two settlements reached in fatal Mason Co. wreck; claims against Ford remain

By John O'Brien | Oct 31, 2013

POINT PLEASANT – Two settlements have been reached over a Mason County fatal crash, but a claim against Ford Motor Company remains pending.

One June 12, Mason Circuit Court Judge David W. Nibert finalized a settlement between the Estate of Ladonna Stewart and Progressive Insurance, which was the insurer on a car driven by Jacob Pillow that was involved in the wreck.

The wreck occurred on May 3, 2011, on Route 62.

According to an amended order approving the settlement, Philip Stewart and the estate of his wife reached a $20,000 agreement with Progressive.

A separate lawsuit filed against Steven Ray Higgins and Erie Insurance Company was settled in May in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. Terms were not disclosed, but the original complaint against Higgins sought $1.5 million.

According to court records, Stewart was traveling in front of the vehicle operated by Pillow on Route 62 near West Columbia.

Pillow’s vehicle went off the road and struck a guardrail, then came back to the road and rear-ended Stewart’s vehicle.

Her vehicle crossed the center line into northbound traffic and was struck by another vehicle.

The witness statement of Higgins, who was the passenger in Pillow’s car, said he grabbed the steering wheel because Pillow passed out.

The crash occurred at 4:20 p.m. Higgins’ statement said that he and Pillow had taken a controlled substance the night before.

On May 1, Stewart’s estate filed a lawsuit against Ford, alleging the seatbelt and airbag in her 2000 Explorer were defective. The suit is seeking more than $1.2 million.

The lawsuit was removed to federal court on July 10.

Stewart lived in West Columbia and was 43 years old when she died. She was a substitute teacher in Meigs County, Ohio. Her estate is represented by attorney Harvey Peyton.

Pillow was charged with negligent homicide and was sentenced to 90 days in jail and two years of probation.

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

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