Saturday, November 20, 2010

Wrongful death suit filed over 2008 crash

November 20, 2010 - By MARY ANN GREIER/Staff Writer
LISBON - The sister of a Salem man killed in a hit/skip accident two years ago on U.S. Route 30 near state Route 172 filed a wrongful death lawsuit Thursday against the people the family blames for the crash.
Lisbon resident Patricia L. Hall, administrator of the estate of her deceased brother, Gary Paulin, filed the complaint in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court, along with Paulin's car insurance provider, Motorists Mutual Insurance Company.
Defendants named in the lawsuit included Hallie House, now known as Hallie Whitman, of East Rochester, who owned the pickup which reportedly crossed the center line and struck Paulin's vehicle, her now ex-husband, Jeffrey L. House, of Hanoverton, who had allegedly been driving the truck the night of the accident, and J & K Services doing business as Night Court, a bar in downtown Lisbon.
Paulin was 53 years old when he died and was survived by his wife, Theresa, his sisters, Patricia Hall, Barbara May, Margaret Scullion and Judy Altman, and his brother, Donald.
The lawsuit alleges that Hallie House negligently entrusted her vehicle to Jeffrey House and also alleged that he was already intoxicated when he was served alcoholic beverages at Night Court on Nov. 23, 2008. The lawsuit claims Jeffrey House's intoxication led to the accident which caused Paulin's death.
No criminal charges have ever been filed related to the crash.
According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Paulin was driving eastbound on U.S. 30 approaching the intersection of state Route 172 in Center Township in a 1990 Chevrolet Tracker when a westbound pickup reportedly crossed the center line and struck his vehicle at 1:47 a.m. Nov. 23, 2008. Paulin died at the scene and the unknown driver fled.
The pickup was then reported stolen at 2:37 a.m. to Lisbon Police by Jeffrey House, who had reportedly been driving the vehicle the evening of Nov. 22, 2008.
Troopers seized several pieces of evidence from the vehicle in December 2008 in an attempt to identify the driver who fled the scene, including the glass window from the right side passenger door, the steering wheel cover, the plastic dashboard panel from the driver's side interior and two individually packaged swabs of dust from the driver and passenger side dashboard.
According to an affidavit filed with the search warrant, an investigating trooper said the window glass included a palm print with distinguishing features and dust found on the dash "...may be consistent with that found within the palm print." He also said fabric fibers found on the lower dash indicated the driver had contact with the dash during the crash.
Night Court was accused of continuing to serve alcohol to Jeffrey House, even though he was already allegedly intoxicated.
Motorists Mutual filed its claim in an effort to recoup money paid out to Paulin's estate for personal injury and wrongful death. The lawsuit document said the amount paid to the estate totaled $50,000.
The lawsuit has been assigned to Judge C. Ashley Pike.

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