TX Supreme Court Rejects Crash Victim's Case

Michelle Gaines, 26, and her father Michael Gaines in their home in Palestine, TX, on Sunday, July 22, 2012.
Michelle Gaines, 26, and her father Michael Gaines in their home in Palestine, TX, on Sunday, July 22, 2012.

The Supreme Court of Texas refused for a second time to hear the case of tragic accident victim Michelle Gaines on Friday.

Without any explanation, the high court denied her attorneys' request for reconsideration.

Gaines, of Palestine, suffered a traumatic brain injury at age 19 on June 11, 2006, when an 18-wheeler hauling an oil rig careened through a red light and crashed into her 2000 Buick.

Four years later, a jury awarded Gaines more than $8 million in damages. The truck’s driver, its owner and another businessman involved with the oil rig were held liable. Court documents show the truck lacked working brakes and a jury agreed with Gaines' attorneys that there was an attempt to cover up what happened.

The state’s 12th Court of Appeals overturned the verdict last year, ruling there was not enough proof that the businessman, Joseph Pritchett — the only defendant with the money to pay the damages — was liable in the accident. 

Pritchett's lawyers have said that he had no role in the accident and that he vehemently disagrees with implications of a cover-up.

Gaines' attorneys appealed, and the case made its way to the Texas Supreme Court for the first time this summer. When the justices refused to hear it, Gaines' attorneys filed the motion to reconsider.

Gaines spent weeks after the wreck recovering from a broken pelvis and punctured lung, but she continues to suffer from the effects of the head injury. Her father, Mike Gaines, has said his daughter has the maturity of a 12-year-old.

Scott Clearman, Gaines' attorney, said the Supreme Court's refusal to hear the case likely means the end of the legal battle and that she will eventually be confined to a state facility when her father is no longer able to care for her.

 

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