Date of Verdict: April 23.
Court and Case No.: C.P. Philadelphia No. 110600885.
Judge: Sandra Mazer Moss.
Type of Action: Products liability.
Plaintiffs Counsel: Robert J. Mongeluzzi and David L. Kwass, Saltz Mongeluzzi Barrett & Bendesky, Philadelphia.
Defense Counsel: William Schaefer, Hendrzak & Lloyd, Center Valley, Pa.; Joseph R. Fowler and Francis Flatch, Post & Schell, Philadelphia.
Comment: The family of a man who died in a December car crash during a high-speed test drive with an intoxicated salesman has settled for $4.3 million.
The dealership that was selling the car, Imports of Lancaster County, is paying $1.3 million through its insurance policy and $20,000 of its own money, according to David L. Kwass of Saltz Mongeluzzi Barrett & Bendesky, who represented the family. The mulch supplier whose truck allegedly caused the car salesman to swerve and lose control of the vehicle, Landyshade Mulch Products, is paying $3 million through its insurance policy, he said.
Michael D. Hershey, who was the salesman driving the car, pled guilty last year to one count of homicide by vehicle, one count of driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, two counts of recklessly endangering another person and one count of driving a vehicle at an unsafe speed.
Surviving members of Jon Christian Jensen’s family brought the suit in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas about six months after the December 30, 2010, crash in East Petersburg, Pa.
Jensen had brought his 20-year-old son, Tyler Jensen, to test drive a 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer, according to the complaint.
After Tyler Jensen, with his father in the back seat, had driven the car out of the lot, Hershey switched with him and drove the car at speeds over 100 miles per hour, according to the complaint. Imports of Lancaster County denied that allegation.
When a truck leaving Landyshade crossed the road’s center line, an allegation in the complaint that Landyshade denied, Hershey swerved and crashed the car, ejecting Jon Jensen, who later died. Imports of Lancaster County also denied the allegation.
The plaintiffs alleged that the car dealership should have been aware of Hershey’s driving record, which included excessive speeding, careless driving and driving under the influence, for which he did time. Imports of Lancaster County denied the allegation.
Hershey is an alcoholic who has sought treatment at various points in his life, including shortly before the accident, his lawyer, Janice Longer, told the sentencing judge, according to a transcript.
Neither Joseph Fowler nor Francis Flatch, both of Post & Schell, could be reached for comment. They represented Landyshade and its owner, John Landis.
William Schaefer of Hendrzak & Lloyd in Center Valley, Pa., represented Imports of Lancaster County and also couldn’t be reached for comment.