City of High Point sued
The wife of a Davidson County man killed in a 2011 traffic accident involving a city of High Point truck has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city and the driver of the truck.
Sharon Leonard alleges negligence in the death of her husband, 71-year-old William Arlen Leonard, who died from injuries suffered after he was struck by a city water tanker truck outside his home on Burton Road on Jan. 19, 2011.
The driver of the truck, Alan Reitzel Gaddis, and the city are named as defendants in the suit, which was filed Nov. 16 in Superior Court in Davidson County. Leonard, represented by attorneys Paul D. Coates and Kimberly H. Floyd, is seeking damages of more than $10,000.
Gaddis was charged with hit and run and misdemeanor death by vehicle in connection with Leonard’s death. He was allowed to plead guilty to traffic violations of unsafe movement and failure to yield to a pedestrian.
District Attorney Garry Frank said prosecutors felt there was not sufficient evidence to support criminal culpability in the case.
“It was a difficult investigation. We only had circumstantial evidence from a neighbor’s security camera that caught pieces of the truck coming down the road,” said Frank. “On cases like this, we try to talk to the victims’ family and their lawyers as to what kind of disposition they would like to see on it.”
Gaddis, who is still employed by the city, declined to comment on the suit. His current job title is chief residuals officer. He was not demoted in connection with the accident, but his driving responsibilities were adjusted, according to City Attorney JoAnne Carlyle, who added that the city had just been served with the suit and that it was too early to comment or respond.
The suit alleges that William Leonard was in the driveway of his residence when he was struck by the right front portion of Gaddis’ truck, which did not stop at the scene.
Sharon Leonard accuses Gaddis of negligence in several respects, such as by failing to yield the right of way to her late husband, failing to maintain a proper lookout while operating the truck and failing to reduce the truck’s speed to avoid a collision. She also alleges that Gaddis failed to stop at the scene of an accident involving a pedestrian “when he knew or should have known” that a crash had occurred.
The suit alleges that the city was negligent by having Gaddis operate a large commercial vehicle when officials “knew or should have known (Gaddis) was inexperienced, incompetent or otherwise unable to operate” his truck in a safe manner.
The city also failed to adequately investigate Gaddis’ driving record, employment history or medical history and was negligent in supervising Gaddis, the suit claims.