Jefferson County sued when patrol unit loses control, strikes vehicle

Kelly Holleran Oct. 14, 2009, 6:56am

A man claims he was seriously injured after a speeding sheriff's patrol unit lost control and struck his vehicle.

Raymond John Lauda of Galveston County filed a complaint against Jefferson County on Oct. 8 in Jefferson County District Court.

Lauda claims he was driving in the center lane of Interstate 10 in Beaumont near Walden Road on Nov. 4 when Zena Collins Stephens, driving a Jefferson County sheriff's patrol unit at a high rate of speed, struck him after she lost control of her vehicle and it went into a spin.

Stephens was in the course and scope of her employment with Jefferson County at the time of the collision, the suit states. Stephens is deputy chief of the law enforcement division of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, according to the sheriff's Web site.

The lawsuit states that Stephens received a traffic citation for the collision for failure to control speed.

Because of the collision, Lauda claims he suffered serious personal injuries, incurred medical costs, experienced physical pain, suffering, physical impairment, disfigurement, mental anguish and loss of earnings, the suit states.

He blames Jefferson County, under the doctrine of respondeat superior, for Stephens' failure to keep a proper lookout, failure to turn her motor vehicle to avoid a collision, failure to take proper evasive action, failure to keep a proper distance and for driving too fast.

"No exemption to the waiver of immunity precludes this lawsuit because no exception applies," the suit states.

Lauda is seeking an unspecified judgment, plus pre- and post-judgment interest, costs and other relief to which he may be entitled.

Christopher D. Bertini of Bertini and Associates in Galveston will be representing Lauda.

Jefferson County District Court case number: A185-092.

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