A man who was allegedly drunk and speeding crossed the center line of a Maine roadway last month and crashed his car, killing a 38-year-old woman and inflicting severe traumatic brain injuries and neck injuries on her 16-year-old daughter. Authorities found cocaine and marijuana present in his system at the time of the deadly drunk driving crash.
While he awaits trial on charges of manslaughter, aggravated assault, and aggravated criminal operating under the influence of intoxicants, a Superior Court judge granted a motion for a $2 million attachment on his home and assets. The 28-year-old accused is out of jail on $10,000 bond and currently living in the home, valued at $236,000. If he is convicted on the criminal charges, he faces up to 30 years in prison, plus $50,000 in fines – and that is just on the manslaughter charges.
Meanwhile, as the 16-year-old girl slowly works her way toward recovery and completion of basic self-care tasks, her medical bills have ballooned to more than $153,000 – and are likely to continue climbing throughout the course of her rehabilitation. That’s why the girl’s father – and the widower of the decedent – filed a motion for an attachment on the defendant’s house and other property.
That this was done without notice to the defendant is somewhat rare in Maine, but there was a risk the defendant would make the property unavailable to satisfy any judgment obtained by the plaintiff if he was notified in advance. In general, asking the court to preserve a defendant’s property in this way isn’t all that uncommon, especially in a case in which a defendant may seek to use existing assets for his or her own defense.
The plaintiff’s attorney said the move to file for an attachment so early in this process also had to do with the fact that just two weeks after the crash, the defendant is alleged to have “fraudulently” transferred the title of his home and other property to his father, who lives in Florida. The plaintiff’s attorney alleges this was done with the express purpose of shielding his property and assets from being seized or sold to cover any claims of personal injury or wrongful death.
The plaintiff filed a wrongful death lawsuit, seeking more than $1 million in compensation for the loss of his wife’s companionship and comfort, as well as her lost wages. His daughter’s medical bills are still increasing in the meantime. Even if the plaintiff prevails in obtaining the full amount of liability coverage available through the defendant’s auto insurance policy, that will only result in a payment of $100,000 – or a maximum of $100,000 per person. That’s not sufficient to cover this devastated family’s losses and damages. Common law allows that when liability insurance is not enough to cover the full amount of damages, a person’s individual assets can also be targeted.
In some cases, it’s not worth it to do so because the accused has very few assets in total. But here, we have property at least in excess of $236,000, so it’s worth pursuing. In order to grant the attachment, the Superior Court judge had to find it was more likely than not the 40-year-old plaintiff would recover the $2 million in damages he is seeking from the defendant.
In a case like this, even an attachment on the house and the insurance coverage won’t cover the full extent of the plaintiff’s damages. The plaintiff may at that point seek underinsured motorist coverage from his or his wife’s own auto insurance policy.
If you are a victim of a Bangor car accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.
Judge grants $2M attachment on house, assets of man charged with manslaughter, Feb. 16,2017, By Judy Harrison, Bangor Daily News