The family of a mother, her son, and her daughter-in-law who were all killed after a driver illegally passed a bicyclist and hit their car head-on has reached a $3.5 million pre-suit settlement with the at-fault driver, the family’s attorney reports.
Steven Fox and Mallory Horne of Teague Rotenstreich Stanaland Fox & Holt in Greensboro said Irene Martin, her son, Stephen Martin, and his wife, Mary Martin, were traveling on N.C. 751 in Durham County in April 2019, with Stephen driving. Edgar Brown was traveling in the opposite direction in a no-passing zone at 55 mph, when he swerved into the opposite lane to pass a bicyclist, who had legal possession of the lane, and slammed into the Martins’ car, Horne said.
“He just crossed a double line and hit [the Martins] dead on,” Horne said. “It was reckless driving to the point of willful wanton conduct.”
Horne said the attorneys pushed for the settlement by focusing on three factors: egregious conduct leading up to the accident, multiple fatalities in the same wreck and multiple fatalities within the same family.
“This one accident destroyed two generations of the Martin family and left behind two sons in their 30s who had the responsibility of now becoming the elders of their family,” she said. “We did focus some on suffering, as there was some evidence that Mr. Martin and Irene Martin were not deceased upon arrival of witnesses and EMTs.”
The car that Brown was driving was registered in the name of Southern Finishing Company, a company that Brown owns. Although Brown was not on the job at the time of the accident, the settlement was collected through the company’s commercial insurance policy.
Rebecca Thornton of Teague Campbell Dennis & Gorham in Raleigh represented Brown. She could not be reached for comment, but Horne said that the defense argued against punitive damages, saying it was an accident and the Brown had only a choice of either hitting the cyclist or crossing the double line.
Brown is facing three charges of misdemeanor death by motor vehicle.
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SETTLEMENT REPORT — MOTOR VEHICLE CRASH
Amount: $3.5 million
Injuries alleged: Three deaths
Case name: Case settled prior to any suit being filed
Venue: Alamance County
Mediator: Michael McDaniel in Raleigh
Date of settlement: Nov. 21
Insurance carrier: Pennsylvania Lumberman’s Mutual Company
Attorneys for plaintiff: Steven B. Fox and Mallory G. Horne of Teague Rotenstreich Stanaland Fox & Holt in Greensboro
Attorneys for defendants: Rebecca Thornton of Teague Campbell Dennis & Gorham in Raleigh