11.14.2011

PennDOT, motorist, share blame in 2004 crash

By Virginia Cody | Times-Tribune Staff Writer

TUNKHANNOCK – A seven-year battle over who was at fault for a November 2004 crash on Coppermine Hill in Wyoming County is over.

The state Department of Transportation – accused of knowing the danger of Montross Road at State Route 29 in Eaton Twp. – and Joshua Freeman, who had been drinking, will share culpability in the accident that put Leanne M. Tinna in the hospital.

Ms. Tinna – whose name was then Newell – suffered two broken clavicles, a broken pelvis, had several bones in her face fractured, a brain hemorrhage, and lost several teeth. She claimed the accident left her with permanent disability including headaches, numbness and vertigo.

PennDOT would pay $200,000 and Mr. Freeman would pay $25,000.

The decision to settle came long after a jury of nine women and five men, two of them alternates, had been seated.

They were told the trial could last a week, but it came to an end Monday after a lunch break.

Defense attorney Jim Mundy said Ms. Tinna has no memory of the accident.

However, he said, it was surmised Ms. Tinna had attempted to drive on Montross Road across State Route 29 to visit a friend.

“There was a horrific crash,” Mr. Mundy said.

And that crash, he asserted, happened because 6,100 cars pass that point at 55 mph daily, and a driver coming up on the intersection only had 110 feet to brake if a vehicle pulled into the intersection from Montross Road.

“There is no time for a northbound (Route) 29 driver to stop,” he said. “The intersection was a trap. Sooner or later it was going to happen to someone. It was only a matter of time … and it happened to be Leanne.”

PennDOT attorney Robert Borthwick noted Ms. Tinna managed to run a 100-yard dash the April following the crash.

Mr. Mundy said Ms. Tinna is “she is a remarkable young woman. She wouldn’t give up on life.”

Mr. Borthwick said the intersection was included in 2004 planning documents, but the county decided repair of its bridges was more important than re-engineering the intersection.

Mr. Freeman’s attorney, John Shaffer of Snyder and Associates, said that while his client had been drinking prior to the crash, the amount was minimal and not a factor.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/penndot-motorist-share-blame-in-2004-crash-1.1232646#ixzz1f8EN6VV2

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