A Solvang man will receive nearly $3 million after reaching settlements in a wrongful-death lawsuit stemming from an October 2019 crash that killed his wife and their two children, according to plaintiff Max Gleason’s attorney.

“This is a very sad case, and it’s unspeakable what happened,” attorney Robert Stoll Jr. from the Stoll, Nussbaum & Polakov law firm told Noozhawk.

A Santa Barbara Superior Court judge is expected to approve the settlements during a hearing Friday.

On the same day in a different courtroom, the criminal case for driver John Roderick Dungan, 29, of Santa Barbara is scheduled to return when the defendant could be arraigned on the information. 

Friday’s hearing for the criminal case is set to take place after Judge Thomas Adams previously ruled that enough evidence exists for Dungan to stand trial on three murder charges. 

Dungan was charged following a fiery crash Oct. 25, 2019, on Highway 154, where a Solvang mom, Rebecca Bley, and her two children, Desmond Bley Gleason, 4 months, and Luciene Bley Gleason, 2, were killed. 

Because of a gag order, attorneys remained mum about details of the case.

John Roderick Dungan

John Roderick Dungan

Court officials also have taken the rare step to hide routinely public files regarding the case from the Santa Barbara County Superior Court’s computer system. 

The criminal case is being prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Stephen Wagner, while Dungan is represented by Jeremy Lessem.

Following his tragic loss, Gleason, the woman’s husband and children’s father, filed a civil lawsuit against Dungan and others.

The civil case will be before Judge Donna Geck, who will consider ruling that all parties had reached a good-faith settlement.

Gleason’s attorney contends that Friday’s court hearing is moot since the plaintiffs dismissed the entire case once the settlements were reached. 

John Dungan and the vehicle’s co-owner, Michael Dungan, through their State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. coverage, have agreed to pay Gleason nearly $1.5 million, with $485,000 paid by their auto liability policy and $1 million under their personal liability umbrella insurance policy, according to court documents. 

In her tentative ruling, Geck said the Dungans “bear the lion’s share of responsibility for the accident, and for the deaths of plaintiff’s wife and two small children.”

She later wrote, “The court understands that the settlement was entered into before discovery was conducted, and there is therefore no information before it regarding a claim for negligent entrustment of the co-owned vehicle by Michael Dungan to John Dungan.

“Still, the settlement amount is substantial. Further, when a good-faith settlement motion is not contested, there is authority that supports the granting of a barebones motion accompanied by a declaration setting forth a brief background of the case.”

Additionally, Gleason reached a settlement with the insurance company, coincidentally State Farm, that represented Nicholas Goddard, the owner of the third vehicle involved in the crash.

Between the two separate settlements, State Farm will pay Gleason a total of $2,985,000. 

Goddard’s role in the crash is disputed, since he reportedly took evasive action to avoid a crash when he saw Dungan’s vehicle approaching at a high speed on the wrong side of the road, according to court documents.

“When his vehicle came to rest, the Bley vehicle was up against its side, turned in the opposition direction to that in which it had been traveling,” Geck’s tentative ruling stated. “While defendant Goddard does not believe that his vehicle struck the Bley vehicle, plaintiff contends that it did.”

OnStar records reportedly claim Goddard’s vehicle did not strike Bley’s car.

Stoll alleged that Goddard was traveling too close behind Bley’s vehicle.

In a tentative ruling, Geck found “the settlement between plaintiff Gleason and defendant Goddard to be well within the proverbial ballpark of a good faith settlement, particularly given the limited liability which defendant Goddard appears to have for the accident. “

The Dungans also reached a second settlement with those in the third vehicle, agreeing to pay Nicholas and Luke Goddard a total of $15,000. 

Nicholas Goddard and his son Luke were headed to Santa Barbara for a lacrosse tournament when the crash occurred. 

Also originally named as defendants in the action were General Motors Co. and Chevrolet, with the lawsuit alleging product liability claims because of defects in the design and manufacture of the Bley vehicle.

However, in October, the plaintiff dismissed the complaint, without prejudice, against General Motors and Chevrolet, according to court documents.

Instead of vehicle defects, Stoll maintained that fault for the crash fell on John Dungan’s alleged intentional act of crossing over double yellow lines, striking Bley’s vehicle. 

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at jscully@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Janene Scully | Noozhawk North County Editor

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at jscully@noozhawk.com.