This was the article was recently printed in the Winchester Star. We wanted to comment that the article, quoting heavily from the Complaint, leaves out the statements of two neutral eyewitness that the ambulance neither had it’s lights and sirens activated and caused the accident. Also, we believe sovereign immunity will not apply for a host of reasons, stay tuned.
Fire company named in $1.35 million dollar federal multi-count personal injury suit
WINCHESTER — A West Virginia man has filed a $1.35 million lawsuit against the Gore Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company and one of its volunteers for negligence and malicious prosecution stemming from a crash with an ambulance two years ago.
Robert Dale Davis’ 24-page lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Harrisonburg, cites volunteer Joshua David Bryson. It also targets three John Does and the Frederick County Fire and Rescue Association.
His lawsuit claims that on June 16, 2015, he was driving his pickup truck west on Northwestern Pike (U.S. 50) in the right lane. As he neared the fire company, which is located on the right side of the road, a Ford ambulance driven by Bryson and occupied by the two John Does pulled out of the fire company garage toward the highway.
“As the ambulance neared the fog line of Route 50, [it] did not have its warning lights, or siren, exhaust whistle or air horn activated,” the suit claims.
The lawsuit claims Bryson accelerated directly into Davis’ lane of travel, which resulted in Davis colliding into the left side of the ambulance, despite his attempts to avoid the collision by slamming on the brakes.
As a result of the crash, Davis suffered “serious, painful and permanent injuries, medical expenses, lost income and a decrease in his ability to perform activities of daily living,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit also accuses Bryson of “maliciously” lying about the ambulance’s lights being activated to the Virginia State Police and later committing perjury in court. The suit claims Bryson was told by a fire company captain or lieutenant (one of the John Does) to turn the lights on after the crash occurred.
According to the lawsuit, the state police faulted Davis for the crash and chastised him for not observing the ambulance with its lights and siren activated. He was criminally charged and prosecuted in Frederick County for reckless driving — a charge that could have led to him spending a year in jail.
He was acquitted of reckless driving, the suit states, but was found guilty of improper driving, which is punishable as a traffic infraction by a fine of not more than $500. Davis appealed his conviction to the Frederick County Circuit Court and was found not guilty due to what the lawsuit describes as inconsistent testimony from Bryson about when he turned on the ambulance’s flashing lights.
Bryson’s “false statements” and “malicious prosecution” forced Davis to defend himself and resulted in expenses, lost wages, insult, mental suffering, anxiety distress and harm to his reputation in the community, the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit includes three counts of negligence, two counts of gross negligence and two counts of malicious prosecution.
Davis is being represented by attorneys Carroll “Beau” Correll Jr., of Winchester, and Peter C. Grenier, of Washington, D.C.
Attorney Julia Judkins from the law firm Bancroft, McGavin, Horvath, & Judkins, P.C. Law in Fairfax is representing the fire company. She told The Star on Thursday that the lawsuit’s claims did not have merit. She said the ambulance’s lights were on and that Davis was negligent in his driving.
“It’s our position that neither the fire company nor the driver [Bryson] was negligent,” she said. “[Bryson is] entitled to what we call sovereign immunity. He was on his way to a lawfully dispatched event, so the law recognizes that he can only be sued for gross negligence and he didn’t lie to anybody.”
Judkins cited the police report, which said Bryson was trying to cross the traffic lane with the ambulance’s emergency lights activated and that Davis was looking to the left and did not see Bryson crossing the traffic lane. The report says that Davis swerved to the right to miss another vehicle that was stopped in the left travel lane and struck the ambulance in the driver side rear.
Judkins claims Davis was negligent, since the other vehicle stopped to let the ambulance leave the fire company parking lot because it “observed the lights” and “obviously observed the siren.”
The fire company has 21 days to respond to Davis’ lawsuit after being served a summons.
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