A second lawsuit has been filed against a Carbondale man and a local tow-truck operation’s parent company for a March 2011 traffic accident that injured scores of people.
The lawsuit by Bruno Cavacas of St. Barts in the Caribbean says he suffered disfiguring injuries when a flat-bed truck ran a red light and slammed into the side of a Roaring Fork Transportation Authority bus. The bus had 55 people onboard, including skiers headed toward the Snowmass Ski Area, and was crossing Highway 82 toward Brush Creek Road at the time.
Cavacas’ lawsuit follows the filing by Robert Perkins of Reston, Va., and James Ertel of Green Valley, Ariz., against Sparkman Enterprises, Inc., the parent company of D&D Professional Towing, and its former driver, Bailey Hall-Sansom.
Ertel had his side of the lawsuit dismissed Sept. 4 after reaching a settlement with Sparkman Enterprises’ insurance company, said his attorney, Pete Cordova of Salida. Cordova declined to say what the dollar amount was, citing a confidentiality provision.
Perkins, meanwhile, is seeking more than $1 million in damages.
Cavacas, who is a French national, and his family were on the first day of their vacation in the upper valley, said his attorney, Steven Polidori of Denver.
“They were so excited to be here,” he said. “It kind of ruined the trip.”
When the truck struck the bus, Cavacas was standing with his skis in front of him. The impact caused him to “face-plant on the edge of the skis,” Polidori said.
The accident caused a laceration that cut “to the bone/cartilage, extending from the mid-forehead, across the bridge of the nose and ending mid-chin,” says the lawsuit, filed Monday in Pitkin County District Court.
Cavacas also suffered nasal bone fractures, nasal deformity, a severed artery, a retinal tear, an injury to his cervical spine and a traumatic head injury, the lawsuit says.
Polidori said his client has undergone plastic surgery, but “that’s the minor part.” The accident left Cavacas with neurological problems that include cognitive issues, hearing loss in his left ear, persistent headaches and loss of balance, Polidori wrote in the lawsuit.
Hall-Sansom was cited for careless driving but was not otherwise prosecuted. But Karen Wasson, the attorney representing him and Sparkman Enterprises, in a response to the lawsuit by Perkins and Ertel, denies the allegation that Hall-Sansom caused the truck “to collide into the [RFTA] bus.”
Wasson also denies that Ertle and Perkins “have incurred permanent impairments, non-economic damages and economic damages,” and that Hall-Sansom was “negligent by reason of carelessly driving and striking the side of the [bus] ...”
Messages left with Wasson and Hall-Sansom on Thursday seeking comment about the latest lawsuit were not returned.
The $1,045,881.21 that Perkins is seeking includes $240,000 in non-economic damages and $192,000 for permanent impairment, with future medical expenses and loss of essential services to be determined. The total also includes pre-judgment interest from the date of the crash and post-judgment interest.
“It’s the best estimate of potential damages,” Cordova said. “If there is permanency of injury, the rules require that you do that type of disclosure.”
Denise Sparkman, a principal with Sparkman Enterprises and co-owner of D&D Towing, said she had not seen the latest lawsuit.
“We’ll turn it over to insurance like we did with the other one,” she said.