Last month, the family of Ashley Ferguson Jones filed a wrongful death lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in New Haven. The 31-year-old’s widower and two children are the named plaintiffs. In addition to seeking $30 million in compensatory damages, the lawsuit also seeks an undetermined amount of punitive damages, double and triple damages as allowed by law and attorney’s fees.
On December 1, 2016, the mother was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer after pulling over to the right shoulder on Interstate 95 in Old Lyme, Connecticut, and getting out of the vehicle to check on her baby in the backseat. Jones’ daughter was coughing and potentially choking when she pulled over to check on her. Witnesses stated that Jones had pulled her Kia Optima fully into the breakdown lane. She was leaning into the backseat with the rear driver’s side door open when the driver of the tractor-trailer drove into the left side of the car. The impact sent Jones 70 feet into the air and ripped one of her legs from her body. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Two passengers in the vehicle, including Jones’ one-year-old daughter, did not sustain any injuries.
According to police, the tractor-trailer continued almost 245 feet beyond the point of impact, traveling through a guardrail and into the trees beyond. It sustained heavy damage; however, the driver, 49-year-old Nicolae Marcu, was uninjured.
The lawsuit names the Marcu, as well as the trucking company, MGR Freight System Inc. of Countryside, Illinois as defendants. The complaint also names numerous limited liability corporation names, all owned by MGR.
The complaint states that Marcu, acting as an agent of the MGR companies, acted recklessly and negligently by failing to move into the left lane while passing a vehicle parked in the breakdown lane, failing to keep a safe distance from other vehicles, speeding, driving while fatigued, sending or receiving text messages while driving and operating a vehicle with unsafe tires and breaks.
Marcu is also facing criminal charges of negligent homicide and failure to drive in the proper lane. He is currently out on bail and is awaiting sentencing, which is expected to take place next month. In the wrongful death case, the plaintiff’s attorneys have not been able to take a deposition of Marcu, as he has exercised his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent while the criminal charges are pending.
The attorney for Jones’ estate stated that “the reason for the accident was, in all likelihood, inattentiveness. Mr. Marcu crossed into the shoulder and struck her. It’s not exactly clear how the accident occurred because Mr. Marcu had pleaded the Fifth until sentencing. We still do not know his version of events.”
At the time of her death, Jones was a stay-at-mother mother for her two children. She and her family were deeply involved with their local church.