CHARLESTON – Construction on Interstate 64 in Putnam and Cabell counties has led to scores of traffic accidents as well as the deaths of three people and an unborn baby.
And soon, there will be a lawsuit filed regarding one of the deaths.
Angela Meade Connelly, the administratrix of the estate of Alexsander Frank Scott Lawson filed a notice of claim May 8 with the West Virginia Attorney General’s office and the state Department of Transportation Division of Highways.
In the notice of claim, filed by attorney Jeffrey S. Simpkins of Simpkins Law in Williamson, Connelly said Lawson, 29, was a passenger in a vehicle driven by his roommate Donovan Tyler Short on April 24 in the construction area between Hurricane and Milton when another driver collided with Short’s vehicle. Lawson was in the backseat, and he “sustained fatal bodily injuries” and died shortly thereafter the collision at the scene.
The notice says the DOH “had a duty to exercise due care and reasonable precaution regarding the implementation, management and enforcement of a temporary traffic control plan” at the construction zone. It claims the DOH failed to do so and, thus, is responsible for Lawson’s death.
It says Lawson’s estate will seek compensatory damages for Lawson’s injuries, wrongful death damages, interest and other relief.
Any lawsuit filed against a state agency requires a notice of claim, meaning the potential plaintiff gives the agency 30 days’ notice before filing the complaint. The notice also mentions contractors West Virginia Paving Inc. and Highway Safety Inc., but it isn’t clear if those companies will be named in the lawsuit. It also says the complaint will be filed in either Kanawha or Putnam County.
Following several accidents in the same stretch, the state installed rumble strips, large electronic signs and reduced the speed limit to 55 mph. Also, agencies increased police presence in the area.
A representative for Simpkins Law declined further comment on the notice, but did say the firm has retained an expert civil engineer who specializes in highway work zone traffic analysis, engineering, geometrics and policy. He also said litigation will be commenced upon expiration of the 30-day waiting period.