Fatality case against TxDOT over uncut grass goes to trial

By David Yates | Jun 27, 2011

A wrongful death case alleging uncut grass obscured a woman's vision and caused her to steer into oncoming traffic has gone to trial.

As previously reported in March 2009, the children of the late Hazel Marie Zapf filed suit against the Texas Department of Transportation and MD Johnson Tractor Service, alleging their mother was killed because she was unable to see oncoming traffic due to high, uncut grass.

MD Johnson Tractor Service was non-suited by the plaintiffs on Feb. 5, 2010, court records show.

Jury selection for the trial of Zapf et al vs. TxDot began Monday, June 27 in Judge Milton Shuffield's 136th District Court.

Zapf was driving in Jefferson County on Aug. 20 when she attempted to make a left turn on Highway 347 when she was allegedly unable to see the road due to tall, uncut grass in the median owned by Texas DOT and maintained by MD Johnson, court papers say.

As a result, Zapf was struck by oncoming traffic and died, her children - Richard Zapf, Gary Angelle, Lowell Angelle, Barbara Rogers and Tricia Tooley - allege.

The children will attempt to convince jurors that TxDoT negligently failed to properly maintain the premises and failed to warn Hazel Marie Zapf of the dangerous condition.

They are seeking loss of companionship damages and the cost of their mother's funeral expenses.

Matthew C. Matheny of Provost Umphrey in Beaumont represents them.

Austin attorney David Strain represents TxDot.

Case No. D183-372

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