LAWSUIT

A WINGS Air Rescue helicopter takes off on the morning of Jan. 29, 2015 from a makeshift landing zone on US 11W, transporting a critically injured Austen Mallory to Holston Valley Medical Center in Kingsport. Mallory succombed two days later to injuries sustained in the crash with a parked 18-wheeler.

ROGERSVILLE – A $4.5 million lawsuit demanding a jury trial was filed Tuesday against an Eidson truck driver and a Kentucky trucking company for whom he worked by family members of Austen Lyons Mallory, an 18-year-old who died Jan. 31, two days after his pickup crashed into a tractor trailer parked on the shoulder of US 11W at the intersection of Corbin Heights Road.

Shortly before 8 a.m. on Jan. 29 as he was traveling south on US 11W after working a third shift at Hutchinson Sealing Systems in Church Hill, Mallory apparently lost control of the 1992 Ford F-150 truck he was driving and went off the highway, colliding with the rear of an empty flatbed tractor-trailer rig parked on the shoulder, according to the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

The only occupant in the pickup, Mallory was airlifted by WINGS Air Rescue to Holston Valley Medical Center, where he died two days later.

Mallory was wearing a safety belt but due to the extent of his injuries, Trooper Jim Lee said that a seat belt would not have made a difference.

Being sued are Mercer Transportation Company, Inc., Frankfort, Ky., and driver Kenneth J. Sellers, 161 Stringtown Rd, Eidson, whose 2005 Peterbilt 18-wheeler Mallory struck.

Sellers, who was not in the truck at the time of the accident, was cited by THP for improper parking.

That parking is being cited as negligence and reckless conduct by plaintiffs Roger and Patsy Royston, Mallory’s maternal grandparents; Heather Drinnon, Mallory’s adult sister; and his paternal grandmother, Joyce Patricia Mallory, all of Rogersville and all co-administrators of Mallory’s estate.

Plaintiffs said Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) were violated by Sellers and Mercer, which the suit says, “was acting by and through its employees and agents and is responsible for the acts of those employees and agents pursuant to the doctrine of respondeat superior,” which is Latin for “let the master answer,” a common-law doctrine that states an employer is liable for the actions of employees performed within the course of their employment.

Plaintiffs said Sellers “knew or should have known that parking the tractor-trailer owned by Mercer Transportation Co., Inc. immediately adjacent to the roadway was a violation of the FMCSR and Tennessee Law” and Sellers “did not have his flashers activated, nor were any reflectors set out behind the tractor-trailer … which resulted in Austen L. Mallory striking the rear of the Defendants’ tractor-trailer causing Austen L. Mallory to suffer fatal injuries,” and that the defendants “were negligent in failing to use a degree of care and caution in the operation of a vehicle as required of a reasonable and prudent person under the same or similar circumstances existing at the time and place of the aforementioned collision.”

The suit further states that “Plaintiffs are entitled to all the compensation available in reliance on this valid statute; including, but not limited to, the following … Austen Mallory had a life expectancy of 63.2 additional years of life predicted by the Social Security Life Expectancy Tables” and “for the pain, suffering and anguish (both physical and mental) experienced by Mr. Mallory from  the time he struck the negligently parked tractor trailer until the time of his horrible death” and “to recover the loss of  the pecuniary value of the life for Austen Mallory, for the expectancy of his life od his age, the excellent condition of his health and strength, his strong capacity for labor and earning money through his skills and his personal habits as to industry, and for his loss of enjoyment of life.”

The suit continues “Plaintiffs further bring this cause to recover for the loss of pecuniary value for  the loss of love and companionship and society that they have experienced as a result of their loss” and “that they suffered serious/severe emotional distress on account of the violent and horrific death of Austen Mallory and attendant circumstances thereof” and “his estate has incurred reasonable and necessary medical expenses and funeral and burial expenses resulting from the death of Austen Mallory and they bring this action to recover such expenses.”