Often motorists injured in collisions sue the driver of the vehicle that struck them, but a Port Arthur family is practically blaming a hurricane for their accident.
When Hurricane Rita ripped through Southeast Texas in 2005, it not only uprooted thousands of trees, telephone and utility poles, but also tore up hundreds of traffic lights, street address signs and stop signs throughout the area cities.
A Port Arthur mother and daughter are now suing the city of Port Arthur, claiming the temporary stop signs the city crews had to put up during the emergency were "defective" and caused them to be involved in an auto collision.
Jerry Jackson and Theresa Glenn filed a $100,000 plus personal-injury lawsuit against the city of Port Arthur and the Texas Department of Transportation with the Jefferson County District Court on Aug. 14.
According to the plaintiffs' original petition, the automobile accident occurred Oct. 10, 2005 at the intersection of 2l00 West Highway 73 and 5800 West Port Arthur Road. Jackson was a passenger in a pickup driven by her daughter, Glenn.
She was driving southbound down West Port Arthur Road when a GMC Sierra pickup driven by Corey Bumstead drove through the highway intersection and struck Glenn's vehicle.
"The accident occurred during the recovery period following Hurricane Rita," the suit said. "A number of traffic control devices in the Port Arthur area had been rendered inoperable by Rita."
The Texas Department of Transportation and the city replaced the regular signs with large orange stop signs equipped with flashing orange lights to alert motorists to the temporary stop signs in the area, the suit said.
"However, the intersection where the accident occurred had much smaller, unlit stop signs," the suit said. "Upon information and belief, Port Arthur police had reported to the city, and perhaps to TxDoT, that the traffic devices installed were totally inadequate and dangerous."
The suit goes on to say that the defendants waited too long to replace the "inadequate temporary stop signs with adequate stops signs."
"As a result of the accident, Jackson, sustainedÃ¯Â¿Â½crippling injuries," the suit said. "Her medical bills exceed $100,000. While she is able to work to some degree, she has not been able to regain full function and faces continuing medical treatment."
Jackson is also suing for loss of past and future earnings, past and future medical expense, pain and suffering and physical impairment.
"When measured in money, her damages are significant and substantially exceed both the jurisdictional limits of this Court and the caps on damages set out by the Texas Tort Claims Act," the suit said.
Glenn sustained "severe and disabling" injuries to her back, shoulders, arms, legs and body generally. She is also suing for the aforementioned.
The suit faults the defendants with negligence for failing to replace the defective traffic control device after having been placed on actual notice that the device was unsafe; installing a defective traffic control device; and failing to install an adequate traffic control device.
The plaintiffs are represented by Steven Barkley.
Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd Judicial District, will preside over the case.
Case No. E179-815