The family of a Wisconsin man who died in a crash at the Hoosier Heartland Corridor interchange two years ago recently filed a wrongful death suit against the state and highway contractors.
The plaintiff in the case, Suzi Jones, through her counsel, filed a complaint of damages against the Indiana Department of Transportation, United Consulting Engineers Inc. and Primco Inc., alleging wrongful death of her father following a crash on Aug. 17, 2014.
Jones is the personal representative of the estate of Edward McDandal Jones Jr., her father, who succumbed to injuries in a two-vehicle crash at the intersection of Burlington Avenue and U.S. 24/25 off the Hoosier Heartland Highway south of Logansport. Since the four-intersection interchange opened in October 2013, there have been 63 crashes, two of them fatal.
The suit alleges INDOT's, Primco's and United Consulting's "negligent and tortious conduct was the direct and proximate cause of decedent Edward McDandal Jones Jr.'s bodily injuries, pain, suffering, and ultimate death." The negligence is cited coming from improper design, engineering, constructing, marking and maintaining a stretch of the highway near Logansport.
According to police reports, at about 5:20 a.m. Aug. 17, 2014, Edward McDandal Jones Jr., of Wisconsin, was driving west on the U.S. 24/35 ramp at Burlington Avenue. Jones failed to stop his Chevrolet Venture minivan at the stop sign, entered the intersection and was struck by a vehicle heading south on Burlington. The minivan overturned and came to rest on its roof.
Police said Jones died at the scene and the other driver was transported to the hospital.
Cass County Sheriff Randy Pryor said Jones' toxicology results released a month later indicated he had a blood alcohol content level of .19, more than twice the state's legal limit of .08.
The suit requests that INDOT, Primco and United Consulting each pay the family "an amount reasonable" to cover "all compensatory damages sustained, for costs of this action, pre-judgement interest, post-judgement interest, and for all other just and proper relief."
INDOT Northwest District Media Relations Director Doug Moats said his office has not been made aware of the complaint, adding INDOT does not comment on pending litigation.
United Consulting designed the section of the Hoosier Heartland which included the interchange near Logansport. Primco Inc., based out of Fort Wayne, constructed the highway.
Logansport attorneys James Knight and Matthew Barrett represent Suzi Jones. The attorneys submitted a complaint of damages in July against the three entities on behalf of Gene and Cathy Knight, who were injured in a crash in July 2014. That occurred just south of the Jones crash.
Knight said the Jones family filed a tort claim seeking damages from the crash in April 2015. In May 2015, the Indiana Attorney General's Office, which reviews tort claims, denied it. The AG office gives plaintiffs whose claims are denied up to two years from the incident to file suit.
The interchange along U.S. 24/35 at Ind. 25/Burlington Avenue and Ind. 29 was part of a $415 million four-segment Hoosier Heartland Project, connecting a highway from Lafayette to Logansport to the existing Hoosier Heartland Corridor on U.S. 24 from Logansport to Fort Wayne. The construction on the 31-mile highway took five years to complete.
In response to concerns from state and local leaders, including Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport, about the interchange, Moats said INDOT has been attempting to improve the safety of the four intersections, such as adding larger stop signs with flashing lights, “stop ahead” signs, rumble strips, overhead beacons and small concrete islands.
Reach Ben Middelkamp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 574-732-5117.