Jury awards $28M in fatal DUI case
An Allegheny County jury has awarded more than $28 million in compensatory and punitive damages to parties affected by a deadly 2009 car crash in Pittsburgh's Lincoln Place neighborhood.
Pittsburgh Elks Lodge No. 11 and Timothy Lesko, 26, of Munhall — who is serving a two- to four-year sentence in State Correctional Institution Pittsburgh in connection with the accident — have been ordered to compensate the estates of an Elizabeth couple who died as a result of the crash, as well as two accident survivors.
Out of the total of $28,007,000 awarded, the Elks is responsible for $10 million in punitive damages. No punitive damages were imposed on Lesko.
The accident occurred on Mifflin Road on Sept. 26, 2009, as Jessica Trail, 24, her boyfriend, William Grice, and two others were traveling home together from a wedding in Munhall when Lesko's vehicle struck theirs.
Lesko's blood-alcohol level was .226 percent the night of the accident.
Trail died at the accident scene. Grice suffered severe injuries in the crash and died seven months later from an overdose of pain medication.
The plaintiffs' attorneys, John Gismondi and Matt Racunas, argued during the trial that Lesko had drunk heavily at a serve-yourself Elks function the afternoon of the wreck and the club hadn't done anything to prevent him from driving away afterward.
Trail's estate was awarded $7.75 million by way of a unanimous jury decision. The Grice estate was awarded $8.8 million.
Damages were awarded to the survivors of the wreck, too. Driver Amanda Delval was awarded $400,000 and passenger Michael Trail was awarded $1,050,000.
A spokesperson from the office of Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Judge Alan Hertzberg said, after nearly two days of deliberation, the jury found that Lesko was 60 percent responsible for causing the accident and the Elks was 40 percent responsible.
Racunas said families of the victims were pleased with the verdict but added the case still could be appealed.
Lesko's attorney, Joe Hudock, said he didn't know on Friday if his client's insurance company will want to appeal the case.
“I respect the decision of the jury,” Hudock said.
Elks' attorney James W. Young Jr. could not be reached for comment.
Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Mon-Yough area first responders say drivers need to stop, pull over
- Closed Bottom Dollars in Homestead, McKeesport to become Aldi stores
- Clairton schools honor alumni in mentoring program
- Elizabeth Forward senior builds his own canoe in school’s lab
- Steel Valley union drops restroom grievance
- Vigil marks 6-year anniversary of Clairton coach’s death