Judge denies motion to transfer, sever in multiple car wrecks case

By David Yates | Dec 13, 2010

A Harris County woman who sued three motorists in June for causing three separate collisions within one year will keep her case intact and in Jefferson County, thanks to a local judge's ruling.

As the Southeast Texas Record previously reported, Shirlene James filed a lawsuit in Jefferson County on June 9 against Robyn M. Gilchriest, Eduardo A. Contreras and Bobby G. Dean III.

In September, Dean filed a motion to sever him from the case and transfer the litigation to Harris County, arguing that all three collisions occurred in different counties and that both he and James reside in Harris County.

On Monday, Dec. 13, 58th District Court Judge Bob Wortham verbally denied the motion, refusing to sever Dean from the suit or allow the transfer of venue.

The collision between Dean and James occurred in the 5000 block of Spring Cypress in the town of Spring in Harris County when she slowed to make a right turn and Dean, who was two cars behind her, failed to control his speed and braked hard, causing his vehicle to veer off the road and to strike James as she attempted to navigate the right turn.

According to the complaint, the venue is proper in Jefferson County because the initial crash making the basis of the lawsuit occurred in Jefferson County and is the county in which defendant Gilchriest resides.

"The two subsequent crashes complete the series of occurrences contemplated by Section 15.005 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code that caused damages to the Plaintiff, thus venue is proper as to the Defendants in each of the two subsequent crashes," the complaint states.

In her suit, James claims the first collision occurred as she drove west on E. Lucas Drive in Beaumont on July 23, 2008. Suddenly Gilchriest, who drove behind James, failed to control her speed and crashed into the rear of James' vehicle, according to the complaint.

On March 4, 2009, James drove north on U.S. 59 in Polk County when Contreras, who also drove north and pulled a flatbed trailer, made an unsafe lane change, causing the back left wheel of the trailer to crash into James' right fender and right door and making James lose control of her vehicle, the suit states.

James claims she has incurred medical costs; experienced pain, suffering, mental anguish, physical impairment and physical disfigurement; and sustained injuries to her cervical spine and hips and suffers from headaches because of the accidents.

Terry Bryant and Stacy L. Kelly of Houston represent her.

Dean is represented by Houston attorney Barbara Hachenburg.

Case No. A187-037

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