Parking lot fight ends in criminal charges, civil suit

Marilyn Tennissen Sep. 6, 2007, 4:10am

What began as friends hanging out in a parking lot ended with one man sustaining injuries, another facing criminal charges and a federal lawsuit in the Eastern District of Texas.

In March, Judson Weaver, Chris Wright and Sara Ashley and others were sitting a white GMC Yukon SUV in the parking lot of the Days Inn in Sulphur Springs.

While sitting in the vehicle, Weaver, 25, allegedly spit in Wright's face. When Wright reacted, Weaver accelerated across the parking lot with Wright's upper body and arms in the vehicle. After about 170 feet, Weaver apparently hit a curb and Wright fell off.

On Aug. 3, Christopher Wright filed a federal lawsuit against Judson Weaver and his father Joe Wright, owner of the SUV. The case was filed in the Sherman Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

"(Wright's) face hit the pavement or curb � seriously injuring the skin, bones, teeth and muscle structure of Wright's face and mouth," the petition states.

The petition says that Wright has undergone hours of reconstructive surgery and dental work and has missed around two months of work.

"In addition, Wright reasonably feared for his life and limbs when Weaver accelerated 170 feet across the parking lot with Wright's head and shoulders inside the SUV," the petition states. "As a result of these events, Chris Wright suffered personal-injury damages � including physical pain and mental anguish, loss of earnings, disfigurement, and medical care, surgical and dental expenses."

On June 12, a Hopkins County grand jury indicted Judson Weaver for assault with a deadly weapon (the SUV) and failing to stop and render assistance.

In addition to the damages, "Wright also suffered the offense resulting from Weaver's spitting in his face."

"Weaver made offense contact by spitting in Wright's face when he knew or should have reasonably believed that Wright would find this offensive or provocative," the petition claims.

And Weaver showed conscious disregard by driving with Wright's head and shoulders in the SUV and knew the actions "created a high-degree of physical harm to Wright."

Joe Weaver, Judson Weaver's father and owner of the Yukon, is also being accused of negligent entrustment for allowing the young man to drive the car.

The suit states that prior to the incident, Judson Weaver had at least one misdemeanor conviction, one deferred misdemeanor offense and one deferred adjudication. Weaver was on probation at the time of the March 2007 incident.

"Judson Weaver was an incompetent or reckless driver, and Joe Weaver knew or should have known this," the suit says.

The plaintiff is seeking compensatory and punitive damages in excess of $75,000, costs, interest and "any other proper legal and equitable relief."

Michael Pezzulli of Dallas is representing the plaintiff.

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Richard Schell.

Case No. 4:07-cv-00369-RAS

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