Lawsuit filed in 2009 crash death on I-81

Lawsuit filed in 2009 crash death on I-81

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The widow of a man killed in a tractor-trailer accident on Interstate 81 in Carlisle almost two years ago is suing four companies and the truck driver involved in the fatal crash.

That crash and an unrelated crash in the northbound lanes at virtually the same time caused nearly six hours of gridlock in downtown Carlisle that Friday as traffic was diverted from the interstate at the start of the annual Corvettes at Carlisle weekend.

Dickinson College students had begun returning to campus for the fall semester as well, and the day was also marked by heavy rainfall.

Ann Dugas, a U.S. citizen residing in Ontario, Canada, filed the wrongful death lawsuit Wednesday in U.S. Middle District Court in Harrisburg, citing negligence as the cause of the crash that killed her husband, Gilles Dugas, according to her attorneys, Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman of Washington, D.C.

Gilles Dugas died Aug. 28, 2009, in a three-vehicle crash just before 2 p.m. when truck driver Dennis Ness lost control of his rig and crashed into Dugas' vehicle.

A second driver, a 61-year-old woman, was flown to Penn State Hershey Medical Center with major injuries, The Sentinel reported at the time.

Ness suffered moderate injuries and was taken to Carlisle Regional Medical Center.

Dugas was southbound in a Chrysler Pacifica when Ness, who was northbound, crossed the median, became airborne, flew across the southbound lanes and crashed into Dugas' vehicle.

Dugas was entrapped and his vehicle had to be cut apart.

Soon after the crash, state police obtained a warrant to search the Volvo for evidence of mechanical failure, trip logs, shipping papers and other details. Police also said they would look for evidence of illegal stimulants, The Sentinel reported.

Named as defendants in the lawsuit are Ness, Eagle Systems, Inc., Thoroughbred Direct Intermodal Services and Twist Trucking, LLC, and Swift Transportation Co., the owners of the truck and trailer, respectively.

Each defendant, the lawsuit asserts, owed a duty of due care to others on public streets and highways to obey state and federal regulations with regard to the safe, prudent, and lawful operation of a commercial motor vehicle, the law firm stated in a press release.

The lawsuit also claims that truck driver Dennis Ness failed to maintain control of the truck and to take evasive action to avoid a collision and that the companies named in the suit failed to properly hire, train and supervise Ness.

The lawsuit is seeking general and special damages, including the cost of funeral, burial and related expenses.

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