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Family Injured in Crash Files Lawsuit Against Big-Rig Driver, Trucking Company

By Lara Cooper, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @laraanncooper |

The family involved in a dramatic crash with a tractor-trailer truck that left their vehicle dangling off of a bridge last year has filed a lawsuit against the trucking company and the estate of the driver.

On Jan. 12, 2012, Kelli Groves, 36, of San Juan Capistrano and her daughters, Sage, 10, and Milo, 10 weeks, were in a sedan when they were rear-ended by an 18-wheeler while traveling northbound on Highway 101 south of Buellton.

Charles Allison, 48, of Grover Beach, was killed after after his tractor-trailer plunged off the road into a creek 100 feet below, where it burst into flames. Investigators later determined that Allison was under the influence of methamphetamine at the time of his death.

First responders worked to free Groves and her children from the car, and she and her older daughter spent eight days at Cottage Hospital before being released. Her infant daughter was uninjured.

Nearly one year after the accident, the lawsuit was filed last week, listing Kelli and Jason Groves, as well as their children, Sage and Mylo, asking for damages for personal injuries and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Arroyo Grande-based R & R Auto Wrecking Inc. as well as the estate of Charles Allison are listed as defendants on the case.

Michael Penn, Grove’s attorney, spoke with Noozhawk on Monday about the case.

“It’s unfortunate that [the lawsuit] has to go forward,” he said, but called it “inexcusable” that the trucking company would hire a person with a record like Allison’s. “The driver had a local criminal record of substance abuse going back two decades. It’s a very long rap sheet.

“For a trucking company to jeopardize public safety like that is inexcusable.”

Penn said the Groveses are still suffering physical and emotional repercussions from the accident, and 10-year-old Sage is scheduled to have surgery on her leg again later this month to remove glass that is still being expelled from her tissue.

“Their injuries are permanent,” Penn said, adding that the Groveses are incredibly grateful to their rescuers.

Attorneys for Allison and R & R Trucking have not yet responded to the lawsuit.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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» on 01.15.13 @ 12:56 PM

Sounds like criminal negligence to me, on the part of both the trucking company and the driver.  Background checks are common practice any more, especially when you have someone driving a heavy, and potentially lethal, vehicle around the public.  I hope this family gets what they deserve.

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