Parties sue driver and company for head-on collision

By Thomas Wilson

STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   Two lawsuits have been brought against a North Carolina nursery and an employee alleging negligence regarding a head-on collision involving a truck owned by the company last July.
   Filed in Carter County Circuit Court by attorney Randy Jessee of Johnson City, a complaint names Margaret Markland as plaintiff and Darrell W. Reese of Newland, N.C., Vaughn's Blue Ridge Nursery, located in Pineola, N.C., and Dustin L. Holtsclaw, of Roan Mountain, as the defendants.
   The second complaint names Rachel and Jeff Thompson, and their two children, Erin and Jeffrey Thompson, as plaintiffs against the same defendants.
   Markland's suit states she was operating a vehicle on Highway 19E in Carter County on July 27 with Rachel Thompson and her two children, Erin and Jeffrey Thompson, as passengers.
   Both suits allege a truck driven by Reese and owned by Vaughn's Blue Ridge Nursery struck Markland's vehicle head-on.
   Markland's and the Thompsons' suit allege gross negligence by Reese and the nursery for failure to maintain control of the vehicle, driving while impaired, and crossing the highway's center line.
   According to a Tennessee Highway Patrol report at the time, Reese was driving on Highway 19E when his vehicle was unable to stop for a disabled vehicle in his lane and swerved into the opposite lane, striking Markland's vehicle.
   Reese was charged with driving under the influence, according to the police report.
   The suits also name Dustin L. Holtsclaw -- the operator of the stalled vehicle -- as a defendant to be liable for a minimum amount of the plaintiff's damages as a result of negligence.
   The suit alleges the plaintiffs' belief that the defendants would shift blame to Holtsclaw being stalled on the road.
   Markland's suit reads that the accident has left her with $1,846 in medical expenses, and seeks $150,000 in compensatory damages and $250,000 in punitive damages.
   The Thompsons' suit reads that Rachel Thompson has incurred $6,275 in medical expenses, and seeks $250,000 in compensatory damages and $500,000 in punitive damages.