The Texas Supreme Court in Gaines v. Pritchett Again Rejects Crash Victim’s Appeal

For the second time the Texas Supreme Court refused to hear the case of Michelle Gaines. In 2006, 19 year old Michelle Gaines was a popular, athletic young lady who had received a soccer scholarship from Hill College. On June 19, 2006, an 18-wheeler hauling an oil rig ran a red light in Palestine causing Gaines to sustain a traumatic brain injury.

Gaines sued the driver of the tractor-trailer and the owner of the oil rig for whom the driver was working. The evidence showed that the 18-wheeler brakes were not working and that the rig owner, Pritchett, paid the driver over $96,000 AFTER the accident, arguably to keep the driver from implicating him. The jury heard evidence that after the accident the driver burned his business records.

The jury held both the driver and rig owner liable and awarded $8,000,000 in damages but the 12th Court of Appeals in Tyler overturned the verdict holding that there was not enough evidence to hold Prichett, the only party capable of paying the judgment, liable. The Texas Supreme Court twice refused to hear the Gaines’ appeal, leaving the Gaines family with no way to care for Michelle, who has the mental capacity of a 12 year old.

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