On July 10, 11-year-old Jessica Kush and 9-year-old Stephanie Kush were rear-seat passengers in a Chevrolet Suburban being driven by their uncle. They were traveling north on State Route 239 in Benton Township while defendant Robert Paul Deitz Jr. was operating a Wickes Lumber truck west on State Route 1035.
The accident occurred when Deitz failed to stop for a sign posted for westbound vehicles on State Route 1035 and proceeded to strike the passenger side of the suburban, pushing it across the southbound lane where it rolled over and landed on its roof.
In a recorded statement to his insurance carrier, Deitz said he had already been on duty for an excess of 70 hours when the accident occurred, in violation of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. The regulations state that a driver cannot operate a commercial vehicle after being on duty 60 hours in any consecutive seven-day period.
In addition to pursuing a claim against Wickes on the basis of vicarious liability, the plaintiffs also contended that the company was independently liable on the basis of corporate negligence.
After participating in a mediation, the parties agreed to settle for a combination of up-front cash and future, periodic lump-sum payments. The total settlement is $6 million and will result in payments to the minor plaintiffs in excess of $40 million.
PENNSYLVANIA LAW WEEKLY Volume XXIV, Number 33 Copyright 2001 by American Lawyer Media, ALM LLC
Verdicts and Settlements
KUSH V. DEITZ. $6 MILLION SETTLEMENT
Date of Verdict or Settlement: May 9 Court and Case Number: C.P. Luzerne No. 5817-C. Judge: Hugh Mundy.
Type of Action: Automobile negligence and corporate liability. Injuries: Stephanie Kush: depressed skull fracture, cognitive deficits, liver laceration, kidney contusion, facial and abdominal scarring. Jessica Kush:
Depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, multiple abrasions and contusions. Plaintiff(s)’ Attorney(s) : Joseph A. Quinn, Jr., Michelle M. Quinn, David A. Aikens, Edward J Ciarimboli, Wilkes-Barre.
Defense Attorney(s) : Nina Gussack, Tom Schmidt, Karen Suddath, Michael Droogan, Philadelphia. Harry Cardoni, Wilkes-Barre. Plaintiff(s) Expert(s) : Ira Gensemer, Ed.D. neuropsychologist; Gregory Loomis, M.D. neurosurgeon; Ira Krafchin, M.D. plastic surgeon; Kristin Bewick, M.S., C.R.C.T. cognitive therapist; James Truscott, Ed.D., child psychologist; Andrew Verzilli, Ph.D., economist.
Defense Expert(s) : N/A