The children of a couple killed in a head-on collision near the Lompoc Federal Correctional Complex last summer have settled a civil lawsuit against the driver and a rental car company for $1.6 million.
The lawsuit filed in December on behalf of the family of Ruben and Bertha Betancourt in Santa Barbara County Superior Court named EAN Holdings Inc. and Enterprise Rent-A-Car Company of Los Angles along with the driver, Shaquille Lindsey of Newton County, Georgia.
However, earlier this month the Betancourt family attorney filed a request for full dismissal with prejudice, typically a sign the plaintiffs and defendants reached an out-of-court settlement.
One of the Betancourts' attorneys, Ryan Harris, founder of Harris Personal Injury Lawyers, confirmed a settlement had been reached.
“This is a tragic case,” Harris said. “There were four adult children that lost their mom and their dad at the same time in the same horrific accident.”
The claim named Lindsey as the driver of the Dodge Challenger that was traveling south on Santa Lucia Canyon Road more than 20 mph over the speed limit at 12:30 p.m. on Aug. 28.
At the time of impact, Lindsey’s vehicle was going at least 63 mph and had crossed over the double, solid-yellow lane markings, without braking, when he hit the Betancourts’ vehicle head-on, according to the lawsuit.
The civil case alleged Lindsey was under the influence at the time of the crash.
The crash killed Ruben Betancourt, 51, and his wife, Bertha Betancourt, 57. One of their sons, Juan Betancourt, suffered serious injuries.
The lawsuit filed by Ranger Wiens from Harris Personal Injury Lawyers Inc. included five causes of action: negligence due to wrongful death, survival action, punitive damages, negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
The plaintiffs —identified as Juan Betancourt, Jose Betancourt, Rubi Betancourt and Teresa Servin — sought general damages, special damages to cover funeral, burial and other costs, economic damages, medical expenses and costs of the lawsuit.
Lindsey was on vacation visiting friends at Vandenberg Air Force Base to celebrate his birthday, Harris said.
He had rented a vehicle he driving at the time of the crash, according to Harris.
The civil settlement comes from Lindsey’s insurance plus additional insurance he purchased for the rental car.
Some of the settlement also comes from the rental car company although federal law limits the exposure in a civil lawsuit to $15,000, Harris said.
Lindsey was represented in the civil suit by Alan J. Carnegie and Nita A. Lee from the Los Angeles law firm of Daniels, Fine, Israel, Schonbuch & Lebovits, LLP.
Enterprise and EAN Holdings were represented by Celeste Brecht, Matthew Gurvitz and Justin Nemeroff, all from Venable LLP.
Whether Lindsey will face criminal charges remains uncertain.
In an unusual twist, the Air Force investigated the crash since the military has jurisdiction of the public road.
Vandenberg Air Force Base officials have remained mum about the cause of the crash, only saying the investigation was ongoing.
Until the civil lawsuit, the second driver’s name and the fact the car had been rented remained unknown