September 7, 2013

Survivors of fatal Biddeford crash may file lawsuit

A lawyer for the mother and toddler who survived an Aug. 2 pickup crash may bring a civil action.

By David Hench dhench@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

BIDDEFORD – A civil lawsuit may be filed on behalf of the mother and toddler who survived their injuries after a pickup truck hit them and the toddler's father last month. The father died of his injuries.

click image to enlarge

In this Aug. 2 file photo, rescuers attend to one of the victims at the scene of the crash in Biddeford where an alleged drunken driver hit a family of bicyclists. A civil lawsuit may be filed on behalf of the mother and toddler who survived their injuries after a pickup truck hit them and the toddler's father last month. The father died of his injuries.

Victor Dorais photo

click image to enlarge

David Labonte stands with his attorney William Trafidlo during his initial appearance in the York County Superior Court in Alfred on Monday, August 12, 2013. Labonte struck a family of three with his truck in Biddeford in August resulting in the death of the father. He is charged with manslaughter and drunken driving.

John Patriquin / Staff Photographer

David Labonte, 56, faces manslaughter and aggravated operating under the influence charges stemming from the Aug. 2 crash, in which police say he drove his pickup into the family of bicyclists. The crash killed Jamerico Elliott and badly injured his 17-month-old son, Lavarice Elliott.

Peter Clifford of the law firm Clifford and Clifford filed paperwork with York County Superior Court indicating that he represents Melodie Brennan, 30, and her son Lavarice Elliott, now 18 months. Clifford was seeking investigative information from the criminal case for use in a future civil case.

Clifford said he needs the material quickly, before the criminal case is resolved, because state law gives the family only 180 days to notify third parties that they might sue them. The statute of limitations on bringing a lawsuit is two years, he said.

Labonte is charged with driving drunk into the family but is not the only one who is likely to be sued. He has almost no assets, was living with his parents to save money, and had no car insurance. The court papers do not indicate who else the family might bring an action against.

Labonte is being held in the York County Jail pending a Nov. 15 court date. Police say his blood alcohol content was 0.15 to 0.17 percent, about twice the legal threshold for drunken driving. Because of prior drunken driving convictions, he was not allowed to have any alcohol in his system while driving.

David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

dhench@mainetoday.com 

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