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Driver admits liability for fatal crash, says he fell asleep
Calvert County, Circuit Court
other-death; other-loss of society; other-loss of consortium; other-conscious pain and suffering
Wrongful Death; Motor Vehicle – Right Turn, Intersection, Driver Fatigue
Kathleen Funchion, Individually and as Personal Representative of the Estate of Michael Funchion, Rick Funchion and Jerry Funchion v. Kenneth V. Klingensmith, Jr. and Ameri-Star Homes Inc.,
April 10, 2015
Rick Funchion (Male, 41 Years),
Jerry Funchion (Male, 39 Years),
Kathleen Funchion (Female, 62 Years),
Estate of Michael Funchion (Male, 63 Years)
Andrew G. Slutkin;
Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White;
Rick Funchion, Jerry Funchion, Kathleen Funchion, Estate of Michael Funchion ■ Ethan S. Nochumowitz;
Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White;
Rick Funchion, Jerry Funchion, Kathleen Funchion, Estate of Michael Funchion
Richard Lurito; Ph.D.; Economics; McLean,
VA called by:
Andrew G. Slutkin, Ethan S. Nochumowitz ■ Jonathan Arden; M.D.; Forensic Pathology; McLean,
VA called by:
Andrew G. Slutkin, Ethan S. Nochumowitz ■ Trooper First Class Brian Wiesemann; Accident Reconstruction; Prince Frederick,
MD called by:
Andrew G. Slutkin, Ethan S. Nochumowitz
Ameri-Star Homes Inc.,
Kenneth V. Klingensmith, Jr.
Steven R. Migdal;
Buck, Migdal & Myers, Chartered Attorneys at Law;
Ameri-Star Homes Inc., Kenneth V. Klingensmith, Jr. ■ Joanne M. Dicus;
Joanne M. Dicus, Attorney at Law;
Ameri-Star Homes Inc., Kenneth V. Klingensmith, Jr.
Selective Insurance for defendants
On May 18, 2013, plaintiffs’ decedent Michael Funchion, 63, an engineer, was driving from a home improvement project toward his home. His son, Jerry Funchion, was driving in front of him in a separate vehicle. They were driving westbound on Nursery Road in Lusby, toward the intersection with Maryland Route 4, a highway in Calvert County with a speed limit of 55 mph. Jerry Funchion and Michael Funchion thereafter stopped at the stop sign on Nursery Road, facing Maryland Route 4. After it was safe to turn right onto northbound Maryland Route 4, Jerry Funchion proceeded, after which Michael Funchion moved forward and stopped at the stop sign. At the same time, defendant Kenneth Klingensmith, Jr., who was working a job that had been assigned by Ameri-Star Homes Inc., was driving a large Ford F-550 truck northbound on Maryland Route 4, approaching the intersection with Nursery Road. The truck was owned by Ameri-Star. Klingensmith veered the large truck across Route 4, onto Nursery Road and hit the driver’s side of Michael Funchion’s stopped car. The impact launched Funchion’s car and spun it approximately 100 yards off the road, which resulted in Funchion being ejected from his car. Jerry Funchion saw the collision in his rear view mirror and then backed up on the shoulder to the scene of the collision. When he arrived on the scene, his father was conscious. He held his father in his arms before emergency medical personnel arrived at the scene. Michael Funchion was transported by ambulance to Calvert Memorial Hospital, where he was eventually pronounced dead. Kathleen Funchion, individually and as personal representative of the estate of Michael Funchion, Rick Funchion and Jerry Funchion filed suit against Klingensmith for motor vehicle negligence and against Ameri-Star Homes for vicarious liability and negligent hiring, training and supervision. The direct negligence claims against Ameri-Star were dismissed before trial, but the claim for vicarious liability was submitted to the jury. Klingensmith admitted liability for causing the accident. At trial, he testified that he had fallen asleep while driving and that he awoke after colliding with Funchion’s car. Ameri-Star disputed that Klingensmith was acting within the scope of his employment with Ameri-Star at the time of the collision. The case proceeded on the issues of damages and the vicarious liability of Ameri-Star.
Michael Funchion was transported by ambulance to Calvert Memorial Hospital, where he was eventually pronounced dead. He was survived by his spouse, two adult sons and grandchildren. Plaintiffs sought damages for wrongful death; conscious pain and suffering; mental anguish; emotional pain and suffering; and loss of society, companionship, protection, care, attention, advice, counsel, training, guidance, education, services and financial support. Defendants disputed the extent of damages.
The jury returned verdict in excess of $2.8 million verdict for the plaintiffs against defendants Klingensmith and Ameri-Star, finding that at the time of the accident, Klingensmith was an employee of Ameri-Star acting within the scope of his employment. The verdict was reduced to $2,480,046 pursuant to the statutory cap on non-economic damages. Defendant Ameri-Star Homes was dismissed by agreement of the parties after the jury returned its verdict, but prior to the entry of judgment.
E. Gregory Wells
There was no appeal and this case is closed.
This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiffs’ counsel. Defense counsel did not respond to a request for comment.