Michelle Keahey, East Texas Bureau Jan. 28, 2013, 3:08pm

The first lawsuit filed over the massive Interstate 10 pileup that caused the deaths of two Pearland County residents has been moved to federal court with the argument that the case is worth more than $75,000.

As previously reported, Vincent Leggio Jr., representing the Estate of Debra and Vincent Leggio Sr., filed suit against C.R. England, Richard Kerr, Tamika Francois and Cathryn Stegmoyer on Nov. 29 in Jefferson County District Court. The case was removed to the Eastern District of Texas, Beaumont Division on Jan. 25.

The defendants argued for the removal on the basis that the case was worth more than the jurisdictional minimum of $75,000 and defendants Tamika Francois and Cathryn M. Stegmoyer were improperly joined in this lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 22, 2012, the Leggios encountered several stopped vehicles blocking their lane of traffic on I-10 when Kerr, who was driving a tractor-trailer owned by C.R. England, failed to control his speed and struck their vehicle. Debra Leggio, 60, and Vincent Leggio, 64, were killed in the crash.

Early morning fog may have led to the pileup, which eventually included more than 100 cars, according to local media reports. The Department of Public Safety and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office reported that 80 to 90 people were hurt, with 10 to 12 critically or seriously injured in addition to the two fatalities. It took more than eight hours to clear the interstate.

Defendant C.R. England is accused of negligent entrustment, hiring, retention and training, and for the failure to properly and safely inspect, repair and/or maintain its vehicle.

On behalf of the estate, Leggio is asking for an award of damages for physical pain, mental anguish, funeral and burial expenses, loss of companionship and society, pecuniary loss, exemplary damages, interest and court costs.

The plaintiff is represented by Walter Umphrey of Provost & Umphrey Law Firm in Beaumont and Joseph D. Jamail of Jamail & Kolius in Houston. A jury trial is requested.

Case No. 1:13-cv-00038

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