A New Jersey couple, each of whom lost a leg when their motorcycle was struck by a teenager who was driving and texting, have settled their lawsuit against him. The $500,000 settlement amount for David and Linda Kubert was the maximum limit of the liability insurance policy covering Kyle Best, the driver. David Kubert had his left leg torn off above the knee in the September 2009 wreck. His wife later had her left leg amputated. The couple, who now live in Florida, are struggling financially because Mr. Kubert can’t work and his wife hasn’t returned to her job.
The couple will appeal a ruling by the trial judge that Best’s girlfriend, who had sent him the text message to which he was replying, couldn’t be held liable for the crash. It was argued by the Plaintiffs, in what is believed to be the first case of its kind in the country, that text messages Shannon Colonna sent to Best played a role in the crash. It was contended that Ms. Colonna should have known that Best was driving and texting her at the time. While Ms. Colonna was not physically present at the wreck, it was argued she was “electronically present.”
But Ms. Colonna’s lawyer successfully argued that she had no control over when or how Best would read and respond to her message. She testified in her deposition that she didn’t know Best was driving his car at the time. Best has pleaded guilty to distracted driving, admitting he was using his cellphone and acknowledging a series of text messages he exchanged with Ms. Colonna around the time of the accident. Records show Best responded to a text from her seconds before calling emergency services. Best was ordered to speak to 14 high schools about the dangers of texting and driving and will have to pay about $775 in fines, but his driver’s license was not suspended. Stephen Weinstein, a lawyer from Morristown, New Jersey, represented the Plaintiff in this case and he did a very good job. It will be interestingly to see how his appeal turns out as to the claim against the other party who was texting.