Court Appoints Receiver for Conn. Trucking Firm Involved in Crash

October 6, 2005

A court-appointed receiver will run the finances of a Bloomfield, Conn. trucking company whose vehicle triggered a deadly 20-car crash in July, a judge ruled.

Hartford Superior Court Judge Vanessa L. Bryant also threatened to hold American Crushing & Recycling owner David Wilcox in contempt of court if he does not attend another court hearing Nov. 2. Bryant had ordered Wilcox to bring the company’s financial records to court, but Wilcox did not attend.

“I’m stunned Mr. Wilcox is not present,” she said.

Bryant named Bridgeport attorney Matthew Beatman as a court-appointed receiver to control the company’s bank accounts and financial operations.

A call was placed to Wilcox’s office seeking comment.

Last week, the judge froze the company’s assets at the request of a crash victim’s family and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who said American Recycling officials had planned to auction off some of their trucks.

Authorities say one of the company’s trucks caused a July 29 accident on Route 44 after it barreled out of control down Avon Mountain and smashed into 19 other vehicles including a commuter bus waiting at a traffic signal. Four people, including the driver of the truck, were killed and four others seriously injured.

Police believe mechanical failure and possibly driver error caused the crash, which remains under investigation. The truck had a history of safety violations.

Michael Stratton, the lawyer for the family of Paul “Chip” Stotler, 42, of New Hartford, who died in the wreck, said the judge’s decision to appoint a receiver was a victory for his client.

“David Wilcox just lost his company,” Stratton said after the court hearing. “He’s been kicked off his property. We got just about everything we asked for.”

Stratton has sued American Crushing and Recycling, claiming wrongful death. The lawsuit, filed in Hartford Superior Court, also names the state, saying Route 44 on Avon Mountain is poorly designed.

He told Bryant that an investigator he hired saw Wilcox removing tires from his property, “presumably to sell them.”

American Recycling’s attorney, David Ryan, told Bryant that he has not spoken with Wilcox.

“My client is cooperating,” he said, referring to the company. “It is mindful of the rights of others and the rights of Mr. Wilcox.”

Ryan and Assistant Attorney General Peter Huntsman agreed to the appointment of a receiver.

Blumenthal said in a statement that the appointment of the receiver is a “first step toward imposing law and order on acompany that has blatantly mocked the law and defied court orders with devastating results.”

“American Crushing & Recycling defied a court order to preserve its assets, so this receiver will do it for them,” he said.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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