David Yates Dec. 9, 2013, 6:44pm

Corporate defendants in a wrongful death suit were non-suited one month after the filing of a motion for summary judgment that argued the deceased was driving while under the influence.

Originally, Sarah Patton, representing the estate of Pamela Freeman, filed suit against the Texas Department of Transportation on Dec. 15, 2011, in Jefferson County District Court.

She later amended her petition to include Toyota and APAC Texas as defendants, alleging a design flaw and standing water on the roads due to construction caused the crash, court papers say.

However, according APAC’s motion for summary judgment filed Oct. 3, Freeman’s blood alcohol content was over the legal limit at the time of the incident and the investigating officers confirmed there was no standing water on the roadway and that the incident was caused because Freeman failed to control her speed.

Patton field a notice on Nov. 6, stating she non-suits all her claims against all defendants without prejudice, court papers say.

In its motion, APAC argued there was no evidence that it was negligent with respect to the construction it was preforming on the roadway in question.

APAC argued that the evidence conclusively shows that Freeman was the negligent party and asked that the court dismiss it from the suit.

Court records further show Toyota filed a special exception on Nov. 2, 2012, asserting Patton’s amended petition fails to allege a specific defect theory or identify an allegedly defective component of the subject vehicle.

According to the lawsuit, on Feb. 12, 2010, Freeman was exiting Interstate 10 when her vehicle hydroplaned, left the roadway and struck a sign and light pole, “causing her serious injury and months later, her death.”

The suit accused TxDot of negligently allowing water to accumulate on the roadway because of inadequate drainage.

Toyota was blamed for manufacturing a defective vehicle and placing the 2002 Highlander into the stream of commerce.

Patton was suing for wrongful death damages and court costs.

She is represented by Beaumont attorney Brett Thomas of Roebuck Thomas Roebuck & Adams.

Attorney Kurt Kern of the Dallas law firm Bowman & Brooke represents Toyota.

Beaumont attorney Larry Simmons of Germer PLLC represents APAC.

Judge Gary Sanderson, 6oth District Court, is assigned to the case.

Case No. B191-484

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