Auto-pedestrian wrongful death suit puts blame on faulty street lights

Marilyn Tennissen Apr. 2, 2007, 2:00pm

The family of a man killed as he tried to cross Cardinal Drive have filed a lawsuit against the city of Beaumont, Jefferson County and Entergy, claiming the street lights in that section of road were malfunctioning.

The wife and daughters of Earnest White Jr. filed the wrongful death lawsuit March 29 under a Level 3 Discovery Control Plan in Jefferson County District Court.

According the plaintiffs' original petition, at around 6:45 p.m. Nov. 16, 2005, White was on foot and tried to cross the road in the 2100 block of East Cardinal Drive near the FM 347 overpass. He was struck by a vehicle driven by Patrick Dean Heald and then by a vehicle driven by Keili Lee Peterman. Heald and Peterman have also been named as defendants in the suit.

White, 60, died of multiple injuries including skull fractures.

The accident report filed by the Beaumont Police Department noted that "all street lights in area were inoperable, impairing visibility" of the drivers.

The suit alleges that electric company, the city and the county failed to properly install, inspect and maintain the street lights in the area of the incident.

The drivers of the vehicles that struck White are said to be negligent for failing to keep a proper lookout, failing to turn their vehicle to avoid the collision, failing to control speed, failing to apply brakes and failing to proceed only when he or she could safely do so without interference or collision.

Plaintiffs are seeking damages for medical expenses, funeral expenses, physical pain, mental anguish, physical impairment and disfigurement, loss of inheritance, pecuniary loss and exemplary damages.

Brian D. Sutton of Sutton & Jacobs LLP in Beaumont is representing the plaintiffs.

Court assignment is pending.

Case number: E179-038

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