Friday, July 10–Settlement Terms Sealed In Civil Suit

SNOW HILL – The multi-party wrongful death civil suit filed by the family of an Easton man struck and killed while crossing Coastal Highway in June 2007 was finally settled last week after nearly two years of legal wrangling, but the terms of the settlement have not been disclosed.

Shortly before 2 a.m. on June 17, 2007, Tyler Adams, 21, of Easton, and a friend, Dale Blankenship, 21, also of Easton, attempted to cross Coastal Highway between 32nd and 33rd streets when they were struck by a southbound vehicle, a Jeep Cherokee, driven by 19-year-old Brian Scott of Orwigsburg, Pa. Blankenship was struck in the foot and received only minor injuries, but Adams was struck head-on and launched over the vehicle. He died two days later.

Absent any substantial criminal charges against Scott in the case, the victim’s family filed a civil suit in August 2007 seeking a combined $1.75 million in compensatory and punitive damages against the driver. Last week, after nearly two years of complex legal proceedings including a long, back-and-forth debate about the presence of actual malice on behalf of the defendant, the parties officially reached a settlement in the case and it was dismissed with prejudice.

However, the terms of the settlement remain confidential. In a joint stipulation of dismissal filed last Wednesday, attorneys on both sides told the court “please be advised that all of the parties in the above captioned case have agreed to a settlement of all claims,” and “the parties are in the process of consummating the settlement and will do so within the next 15 days.”

Attorney Ernest Cornbrooks represented the defendant Scott in the case, while attorney James Otway represented the victim’s mother, Holly Davis. The victim’s father, Timothy Adams, joined the case in midstream in January 2008 as an intervenor and was represented by local attorney Bruce Bright. Otway and Bright could not be reached for comment this week, and Cornbrooks issued a brief statement about the settlement.

“I have no authority to comment on the dismissal of this case,” he said.

From the beginning, the civil suit revolved around an all too familiar scenario in the resort area. According to the facts of the case, Scott was intoxicated and underage at the time of the collision and ran a red light, while Adams was also suspected of being intoxicated and was not in a crosswalk. The defense argued there was no presence of malice in the case, a standard for non-intentional torts in Maryland, while the plaintiffs argued Scott’s actions did constitute actual malice.

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