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R4.4m in teen SMS crash suit

2012-08-22 11:51

THE COST OF DRIVING WHILE TEXTING: David and Linda Kubert agreed to a R4.4-million settlement by a teenager who was texting while driving when he collided with the couple.

MORRISTOWN, New Jersey - A couple, who each lost a leg when their motorcycle was struck by a teenager driving while texting, have settled their lawsuit against him for R4.4-million.


The settlement amount for David and Linda Kubert equals the maximum payment driver Kyle Best's insurance would cover, the couple's lawyer Stephen Weinstein said.


David had his left leg torn off above the knee in the accident on September 2009 in New Jersey. His wife later had her left leg amputated.


'ELECTRONICALLY PRESENT GIRLFRIEND'


Due to their current condition, the couple are struggling financially.


The couple still plan to appeal a judge's ruling that Best's girlfriend, who had sent him the text message to which he was replying, can't be held liable for the crash.


Weinstein has argued, in what is believed to be the first case of its kind in the country, that the text messages Shannon Colonna sent to Best played a role in the crash.


He said Colonna should have known Best was driving. He argued that while Colonna was not physically present at the wreck, she was "electronically present" and asked for a jury to decide Colonna's liability in the case.


Colonna's lawyer, argued she had no control over when or how Best would read and respond to the message. Colonna testified at a deposition that she didn't know Best was driving at the time.


Best has pleaded guilty to distracted driving, admitting he was using his cellphone while driving. Records show Best responded to a text from Colonna seconds before calling emergency services.


Best was ordered to speak to 14 high schools about the dangers of texting and driving and had to pay about R6400 in fines, though his driver's license was not suspended.


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