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Dodge answers auto negligence suit

William McCandless, attorney for DaimlerChrysler, in the suit against the corporation and Billy Lane has filed an answer to the auto negligence and wrongful death claim for Dolores Morelock, mother of Gerald Morelock.

This is going to be a rather lengthy post because the answer contains in all, 37 responses. Problem being, as in all answers in law, the document does not contain the questions. So, for me to post just the answers would not make much sense. It would be very tricky to go back and forth from the page that has some of the questions to this page. Not only tricky, but confusing. The other option I considered was to only post some of the most important or highlight responses. Whereas that would not be fair, some may want to know things that are omitted, while others may say items were omitted intentionally.

Basically this will be a recap of what has transpired with the addition of the answers that are on the document that I retrieved from the Brevard County Clerks office today. Although the answer was filed on the 14th of November, it had not been in the case folder up until today when I checked.

With that said, below this will be the text of the two documents that are pertaining to one another. The complaint filed for the Plaintiff, Dolores Morelock, mother of Gerald Morelock and the answer filed for the Defendant, DaimlerChrysler. I should mention here as well, the attorneys involved.

  • Defendant (1) William D. Lane
    Party Attorney: Terence R. Perkins
    Party Attorney: G. Jeffrey Vernis
  • Defendant (2) Daimlerchrysler Corporation
    Party Attorney: William McCandless
  • Plaintiff (1) Dolores J. Morelock
    Party Attorney: S. Sammy Cacciatore JR
  • Plaintiff (2) Estate of Gerald V Morelock
    Party Attorney: S. Sammy Cacciatore JR

Allegations Common To All Counts

  1. This is an action for damages which exceed the sum of fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000.00).

DC Lacks sufficient knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations and therefore must deny the allegations.

  1. At all material times hereto, the decedent. Gerald V. Morelock, was a resident of Brevard County, Florida.

DC Lacks sufficient knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations and therefore must deny the allegations.

  1. At all times material hereto, Dolores J. Morelock, was the mother to Gerald V. Morelock, deceased.

DC Lacks sufficient knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations and therefore must deny the allegations.

  1. At all times material hereto, the Plaintiff, Dolores J. Morelock, was the duly authorized personal representative of the estate of Gerald V. Morelock.

DC Lacks sufficient knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations and therefore must deny the allegations.

  1. At all times material hereto, the Defendant, William D. Lane was a resident of the State of Florida.

DC Lacks sufficient knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations and therefore must deny the allegations.

  1. The Defendant, Daimlerchrysler Corporation, at all material times was and is incorporated in the State of Michigan and has been authorized to transact business in the State

DC denies the allegations in the form and manner alleged as untrue.

  1. The Defendant, Daimlerchrysler Corporation, at all material times was the owner of the 2006 Dodge pickup truck with Michigan tag number 2922HU (hereinafter referred to as “2006 Dodge pickup truck”).

DC admits the allegations.

  1. The Defendant, Daimlerchrysler Corporation, at all times material to this action manufactured, distributed and marketed motor vehicles under the trademark Dodge.

DC admits the allegations.

  1. On or about the 4th day of September, 2006, the decedent, Gerald V. Morelock, wearing a helmet, was properly operating his 1983 Yamaha motorcycle with his headlight illuminated northbound on State Road A1A at the same time as the Defendant, William D. Lane, was operating the 2006 Dodge pickup truck southbound on State Road A1A in the northbound lane and hit the motorcycle operated by the decedent, Gerald V. Morelock, head on.

DC Lacks sufficient knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations and therefore must deny the allegations.

  1. The Plaintiff’s decedent, Gerald V. Morelock, died on the 4th day of September, 2006 in Brevard County, Florida.

DC Lacks sufficient knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations and therefore must deny the allegations.

  1. At the time of the collision, the Defendant, William D. Lane, was operating the promotional 2006 Dodge pickup which was owned by DaimlerChrysler Corporation, and had been provided along with other promotional vehicles to the Defendant, William D. Lane, for his use.

DC admits that it furnished the subject vehicle for Lane’s use but denies the remaining allegations in the form and manner alleged.

  1. The 2006 Dodge pickup was and is a promotional vehicle with logos, advertising art work and the “Dodge” name prominently all over the front, side and rear of the vehicle for the purpose of advertising and marketing Dodge pickup trucks. Three photographs of that 2006 Dodge pickup promotional vehicle are attached as Exhibit “A1 through A3″.

DC denies the allegations in the form and manner alleged.

  1. At all material times, the Defendant, William D. Lane, was using the vehicle owned by the Defendant, DaimlerChrysler Corporation, with permission and consent of DaimlerChrysler Corporation and for the economic benefit of the Defendant, DaimlerChrysler Corporation.

DC admits that Lane had DC’s permission to operate the vehicle bu lacks sufficient knowledge or information to form a belief as to the truth of the remaining allegations.

  1. The Defendant, DaimlerChrysler Corporation, received an economic benefit as a result of the Defendant, William D. Lane, operating the promotional Dodge pickup truck together with the other provided promotional vehicles on the roadways of the State of Florida as well as other states.

DC denies the allegations in the form and manner alleged.

  1. At the time of the collision, the Defendant, William D. Lane, was operating the 2006 Dodge pickup truck even though his license was suspended by the State of North Carolina.

DC Lacks sufficient knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations and therefore must deny the allegations.

  1. At the time of the collision, the Defendant, William D. Lane, was awaiting a sentencing from the courts of North Carolina for a charge of driving under the influence.

DC Lacks sufficient knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations and therefore must deny the allegations.

  1. At the time of the collision, the Defendant, William D. Lane, was operating his vehicle in excess of the posted speed limited.

DC Lacks sufficient knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations and therefore must deny the allegations.

  1. At the time of the collision, the Defendant, William D. Lane, was operating his vehicle southbound State Road A1A when he crossed the double yellow line and drove into the northbound lanes of State Road A1A.

DC Lacks sufficient knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations and therefore must deny the allegations.

  1. At the time of the collision, the Defendant, William D. Lane, had a blood alcohol level of .192, or an amount which is greater that twice the legal limit in the State of Florida.

DC Lacks sufficient knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations and therefore must deny the allegations.

  1. That as a direct and proximate result of the aforesaid wrongful acts of the Defendant, William D. Lane, Gerald V. Morelock died.

DC Lacks sufficient knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations and therefore must deny the allegations.

  1. At the time of the decedent’s demise, he was unmarried. The following are the beneficiaries of Gerald V. Morelock, deceased, and their relationship to the Plaintiff’s decedent as set forth by the Florida Wrongful Death Act:
Name Relationship
Dolores J. Morelock Mother

DC Lacks sufficient knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations and therefore must deny the allegations.

COUNT I

NEGLIGENCE OF WILLIAM D. LANE

The Plaintiff incorporates the Allegations Common to All Counts as if fully stated herein.

CLAIM OF THE ESTATE OF GERALD V. MORELOCK, DECEASED

  1. As a direct and proximate result of the aforedescribed wrongful acts of the Defendants, William D. Lane and DaimlerChrysler Corporation, and the ensuing death of Gerald V. Morelock, deceased, the estate has experienced the following losses:
  1. The loss of earnings of the deceased from the date of injury to the date of his death;
  2. The loss of the prospective net accumulations of the estate which reasonably could have been expected but for his wrongful death;
  3. Medical expenses due to the decedent’s injury;
  4. Funeral expenses.
  5. Prejudgement interest at the legal rate on all amounts which the estate has incurred for the property damage loss, medical expenses, and on any other liquidated expenses incurred as a result of the aforedescribed injuries and subsequent death of Gerald V. Morelock.

DC denies the inference of negligence directed against it as untrue. DC lacks sufficient knowledge or information as to the truth of the remaining allegations and therefore must deny the allegations.

CLAIM FOR THE BENEFIT OF DOLORES J. MORELOCK

  1. As further direct and proximate result of the aforedescribed wrongful acts of the Defendants, William D. Lane and DaimlerChrysler Corporation, and the ensuing death of Gerald V. Morelock, deceased, as a survivor and parent of her deceased child has suffered the following losses:
  1. The value of lost support and services from the date of her son’s injury to his death, with interest;
  2. The value of the future loss of support and services from the date of her son’s death;
  3. Mental pain and suffering from the date of her son’s injury up to the present, and future mental pain and suffering as a result of her son’s death.

DC denies the inference of negligence directed against it as untrue. DC lacks sufficient knowledge or information as to the truth of the remaining allegations and therefore must deny the allegations.

Wherefore, Defendant DaimlerChrysler Corporation requests judgment in its favor, along with an award of costs and attorney fees.

COUNT II

LIABILITY OF DAIMLERCHRYSLER

The Plaintiff incorporates the Allegations Common to All Counts as if fully stated herein.

DC incorporates by reference its answers to paragraphs 1-23 of the amended complaint as though set forth herein, paragraph by paragraph and word for word.

  1. A motor vehicle is a dangerous instrumentality.

The allegation calls for legal conclusion, for which no answer is required. However, DC acknowledges Florida common law that has construed automobiles to be subject to the “dangerous instrumentality doctrine”.

  1. The Defendant, William D. Lane, had a history of disobeying traffic laws, receiving numerous moving citations, and being a reckless, incompetent or unfit driver.

DC Lacks sufficient knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations and therefore must deny the allegations.

  1. The Defendant, DaimlerChrysler Corporation, knew or should have known through the exercise of due care that the Defendant, William D. Lane, had a history of disobeying traffic laws, receiving numerous moving citations, and being a reckless, incompetent or unfit driver.

DC denies of the allegations as untrue.

  1. The Defendant, DaimlerChrysler Corporation, entrusted the 2006 Dodge truck which was involved in the above mentioned crash to the Defendant, William D. Lane, for the economic benefit received from the advertisement and marketing by the Defendant, William D. Lane, operating the promotional 2006 Dodge pickup truck.

DC admits that it provided Lane with the authority to operate the vehicle but denies the remaining allegations in the form and manner alleged as untrue.

  1. The entrustment for economic benefit of the Dodge truck by the Defendant, DaimlerChrysler Corporation, to the Defendant, William D. Lane, created an appreciable risk of harm to others, including the deceased, Gerald V. Morelock, and a concomitant or corresponding duty on the part of the Defendant, DaimlerChrysler Corporation.

DC denies the allegations in the form and manner alleged as untrue but admits to those duties imposed upon it by operation of law.

  1. The death of the Plaintiff’s decedent, Gerald V. Morelock, was proximately caused by the negligence of both the Defendant, DaimlerChrysler Corporation, entrusting the 2006 Dodge pickup truck to William D. Lane thus providing the opportunity the actions of the Defendant, William D. Lane, as described above.

DC denies the allegations in the form and manner alleged as untrue.

CLAIM OF THE ESTATE OF GERALD V. MORELOCK, DECEASED

  1. As a direct and proximate result of the aforedescribed wrongful acts of the Defendants, William D. Lane and DaimlerChrysler Corporation, and the ensuing death of Gerald V. Morelock, deceased, the estate has experienced the following losses:
  1. The loss of earnings of the deceased from the date of injury to the date of his death;
  2. The loss of the prospective net accumulations of the estate which reasonably could have been expected but for his wrongful death;
  3. Medical expenses due to the decedent’s injury;
  4. Funeral expenses.
  5. Prejudgement interest at the legal rate on all amounts which the estate has incurred for the property damage loss, medical expenses, and on any other liquidated expenses incurred as a result of the aforedescribed injuries and subsequent death of Gerald V. Morelock.

DC denies the allegations in the form and manner alleged as untrue.

CLAIM FOR THE BENEFIT OF DOLORES J. MORELOCK

  1. As a further direct and proximate result of the aforedescribed wrongful acts of the Defendants, William D. Lane and DaimlerChrysler Corporation, and the ensuing death of Gerald V. Morelock, deceased, as a survivor and parent of her deceased child has suffered the following losses:
  1. The value of lost support and services from the date of her son’s injury to his death, with interest;
  2. The value of the future loss of support and services from the date of her son’s death;
  3. Mental pain and suffering from the date of her son’s injury up to the present, and future mental pain and suffering as a result of her son’s death.

DC denies the allegations in the form and manner alleged as untrue.

Wherefore, Defendant DaimlerChrysler Corporation requests judgment in its favor, along with an award of costs and attorney fees.

COUNT III

PUNITIVE DAMAGES AGAINST WILLIAM D. LANE

DC incorporates by reference its answers to paragraphs 1-31 of the amended complaint as though set forth herein, paragraph by paragraph and word for word.

  1. The Defendant’s, William D. Lane, conduct, specifically drinking alcoholic beverages, operating a motor vehicle, exceeding the posted speed limit, and passing vehicles where there was a double yellow line were intentional acts on the part of the Defendant, William D. Lane, and the Defendant, William D. Lane, had actual knowledge of the wrongfulness of the conduct and the high probability that injury or damage to another individual would result and, despite that knowledge, intentionally pursued that course of conduct.

DC Lacks sufficient knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations and therefore must deny the allegations.

  1. The Defendant’s, William D. Lane, conduct was so reckless or wonting in care that it constituted a conscious disregard or indifference to the life, safety, or rights of persons exposed to such conduct, such as the decedent, Gerald V. Morelock.

DC Lacks sufficient knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations and therefore must deny the allegations.

  1. The Defendant’s, William D. Lane, conduct did cause the death of the decedent, Gerald V. Morelock.

DC Lacks sufficient knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations and therefore must deny the allegations.

  1. A certified copy of the probable cause affidavit is attached as Exhibit “B”.

DC Lacks sufficient knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations and therefore must deny the allegations.

CLAIM OF THE ESTATE OF GERALD V. MORELOCK, DECEASED

  1. As a direct and proximate result of the aforedescribed wrongful acts of the Defendants, William D. Lane and DaimlerChrysler Corporation, and the ensuing death of Gerald V. Morelock, deceased, the Estate of Gerald V. Morelock seeks Punitive Damages from the Defendant, William D. Lane.

DC Lacks sufficient knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations and therefore must deny the allegations.

CLAIM FOR THE BENEFIT OF DOLORES J. MORELOCK

  1. As a further direct and proximate result of the aforedescribed wrongful acts of the Defendants, William D. Lane and DaimlerChrysler Corporation, and the ensuing death of Gerald V. Morelock, deceased, as a survivor and parent of her deceased child seeks Punitive Damages from the Defendant, William D. Lane.

DC Lacks sufficient knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations and therefore must deny the allegations.

Wherefore, Defendant DaimlerChrysler Corporation requests judgment in its favor, along with an award of costs and attorney fees.

END OF DOCUMENT

Below are the 3 pictures described as evidence Exhibit A1 – A3. The pictures are included as part of the auto negligence claim, not the answer from Dodge.

Exhibit A1

EXHIBIT A1

Exhibit A2

EXHIBIT A2

Exhibit A3

EXHIBIT A3

Source:

Both documents were obtained as public record for case no: 05-2006-CA-058089

Although these documents are public record, it takes me a great deal of time, effort and finances to document this case for the Internet. I ask that you respect this work by linking back to this site when using this article in whole or in part. Thanks.
 

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  • 13 Responses to “Dodge answers auto negligence suit”

    1. Norman Gregory Fernandez, Esq. Says:

      Mike I read the answer. I cannot comment on Florida law because I am not licensed to practice law in Florida, but I can say this.

      I would expect the exact same kind of Answer to be filed in California! In California, you are allowed to do a general denial to an unverified complaint. (unverified means a complaint that is not signed under penalty of perjury). So if this was a California answer it would just be a general denial.

      With respect to affirmative defenses; the general rule for all lawyers defending a case it to assert every and all potential affirmative defenses in your answer, because if you don’t you could lose them.

      Basically what I am getting at is that the Answer that you see filed in its present form, looks like a standard answer that any competent lawyer would file on behalf of their client. With respect to litigation, after discovery is conducted it could very well be that the decedent’s (Morelock) family could do a motion for summary judgment or for a judgement on the pleadings with respect to certain or all of the affirmative defenses.

      We will see how it pans out.

      Norm
      http://www.bikerlawblog.com

    2. Mike Odom Says:

      Norman,
      Thanks for your input!

    3. Norman Gregory Fernandez, Esq. Says:

      Mike I just did an article on my Blog about the Answer which you can see here: http://www.bikerlawblog.com/index.php?blog=2&title=the_dodge_answer_to_the_morelock_family_&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1 or by going to http://www.bikerlawblog and searching for Billy Lane.

      You deserve credit. You were the one who drove 3 hours to get the answer so that you could present it to your readers!!

      Norm
      http://www.bikerlawblog.com

    4. Stormrush Says:

      Hey, I was just wondering where has Billy Lane been since thanksgiving? I haven’t heard anything about him in a while. Is he staying in Florida or camped out somewhere else?

    5. oso g Says:

      Keep us informed Mike/Norm, well done…again.

    6. Mike Odom Says:

      Stormrush,
      Billy has been around. He has been working at the shop and I seen him in Fort Lauderdale at the toys in sun run. He was hanging out with the guys at Indian Larry Legacy.

    7. Mike Odom Says:

      oso g,
      Thanks for reading. I’m on it!
      And Norm is a great biker attorney. An asset to the motorcycle community in California I am sure. I wish I knew of a comparable attorney here in Florida. I keep trying to find one that I can communicate with on the same level as I can with Norm.
      When I do find such an attorney, I will certainly let everyone know.

    8. Norman Gregory Fernandez, Esq. Says:

      Thanks for the kind words Mike. I became a lawyer to help people. I also happen to be a biker.

      I am glad that we ran across each other man. If you ever come to California I will take you on some great runs and show you one hell of a good time.

      Keep both wheels on the road.
      Norm

    9. sandie diephouse Says:

      Looks like the Judge is going to let this start on Februsry 7th as far as the civil case goes. I like Norm too he has certainly answered our questions. A trip to California sounds good. My $ is on the Morelock family prevailing in this suit. So many factore where ther is undisputed that Billy had no regard for the law or following the highway rules of driving. DC should have made sure that Billy had license.

    10. Nancy Says:

      I found your blog through google, as I was doing some of my own follow up on this case. I have to say, I am so impressed that someone with the knowledge, capability, and integrity has been keeping the public informed about this case. You have done so without judgement, and so factually. I commend you for your work. I would also like to say thanks to Mr. Fernandez for speaking from a legal point of view.

      So many of the other sites and blogs have held “bashing sessions” and while I do agree that wrong was done, I don’t agree with burning at the stake.

      -Nancy Bullock-
      Tulsa, OK

    11. Mike Odom Says:

      Nancy,
      Thanks for visiting, reading and the comment. I have to agree with you on the last line. I don’t feel that we need to hold a “Internet court” and I have seen way to much of the bashing episodes. I try to stay without judgement and I appreciate it when people recognize it.

      Thanks,
      Mike

    12. sandie diephouse Says:

      Both the civil and criminal trials are going to be interesting. I do not see how they can both go at the dates that are set on the courts docket. It will take more than two days. Mrs. Morelock has indeed hired the best attorney in Brevard County to represent the estate of Gerry Morelock. I do believe that he will prevail. Mike…you have done so much work on this case. Investigative reporting is definitely in your blood. I agree with Nancy. Internet lynching is no proper…..but so many things go against Billy Lane. Lets face it…Billy had no regard for the law. He should have never been driving. Possibily if Billy was not driving without license and ignoring the traffic laws Gerry Morelock would not be dead. Sadly, the facts speak loud in this case and can not be ignored. Funny, but life for Billy goes on like nothing has happened…..hense causing a accident where you kill somebody. i do not know if it is true but I heard the accident scene was gruesome. WOW!!! I could not believe the pictures of the truck. This is the first that I seen the bottom two.

    13. sandie Says:

      I say let the show begin.

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