Settlement reached for one plaintiff group in nursery truck accident

From Staff Reports

   A settlement has been reached between one of two plaintiffs against the owner of a North Carolina landscaping company involved in a traffic accident that injured two children in July 2001.
   Rachel and Jeff Thompson filed a lawsuit on behalf of their two children, Erin and Jeffrey Thompson, against Darrell W. Reese and Vaughn's Blue Ridge Nursery, located in Pineola, N.C., following a head-on collision on U.S. Highway 19E on July 27, 2001.
   The two children and their mother were passengers in a car driven by Margaret Markland when a truck driven by Reese and owned by Vaughn's Blue Ridge Nursery struck their vehicle head-on. Markland also filed suit against Reese and the nursery.
   According to the order issued by Circuit Court Judge Thomas J. Seeley, Reese, the nursery and Superior Insurance Co. agreed to pay lump sum settlements of $5,000 on behalf of Jeffrey Thompson and $1,000 for Erin Thompson for medical expenses incurred from the accident. The settlement releases Reese and his company from all further claims in the lawsuit.
   The Thompsons' and Markland's complaint alleged 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.
   The Thompsons' suit had sought $250,000 in compensatory damages and $500,000 in punitive damages from the defendants.
   The Thompsons' suit had also named Dustin L. Holtsclaw -- the operator of the stalled vehicle -- as a defendant. He was not named as a party in the settlement.
   Markland's suit seeks $150,000 in compensatory damages and $250,000 in punitive damages.