Accident lawsuits settled three years later

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 14, 2001

Staff Writer

Almost three years after a deadly accident, three lawsuits have been settled.

On Monday, Ellis Metals settled with plaintiffs Lenora Smith, widow of the man killed in the accident, Corey Heath of Dothan and Douglas Todd of Ohio.

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It was at approximately 6 a.m., April 2, 1998 that James Edward Smith of Dothan was killed and nine individuals were injured in a 14-car pile up on U.S. Highway 231, one mile south of Brundidge.

That morning, the road way was obscured by a blanket of smoke caused by a fire at Ellis Metals.

In an article published in The Messenger the day after the accident, Brundidge Police Chief Moses Davenport said visibility was almost zero along the 150-yard stretch of the highway where the accidents occurred.

At approximately 4 a.m. that Thursday, the Brundidge Fire Department was dispatched to Ellis Metals. The fire was put out around 5 a.m., but smoke limited visibility to almost nothing.

Smith was traveling in the northbound lane. He was delivering a van from his dealership to Huntsville when he swerved the van to avoid hitting a car and ran under an 18-wheeler, causing fatal injuries. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The two other men involved in the lawsuit also hit the 18-wheeler. Heath was the driver of the car in which Todd was a passenger.

All emergency personnel at the scene that day said smoke caused the accident, said Troy attorney Terry Butts, who was one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys.

Butts said

attorneys were ready to strike a jury Monday when everyone decided to enter into a settlement. The amount of the settlement, he said, is confidential.

"It was a good and fair settlement," Butts said of the first big case he’s had since returning to private practice after retiring from the Alabama Supreme Court.

Other attorneys for the plaintiffs were Mark Andrews of Dothan, Jere Beasley and Mike Crowe, both of Montgomery.

Ellis Metals was represented by Wade Baxley of Dothan. ABC Trucking was represented by Bob Cooper of Birmingham.