Maine Widower May Never Collect $500K Insurance Settlement

May 7, 2008

An 85-year-old Buxton, Maine man’s lawsuit against the motorist he blamed for his wife’s death has ended in a settlement totaling more than $500,000, but whether the widower ever collects the money remains to be seen.

Still at issue is the insurance status of the woman whose minivan struck and killed Ethel Lewis, 76, on Dec. 4, 2006, as she was retrieving her newspaper from a box across the street from her home.

Wilmot “Bill” Lewis initially sought criminal charges against Lori Marston of Buxton. But the York County District Attorney’s Office decided not to prosecute because she had stopped and provided assistance, despite an initial police report stating that the crash was a hit-and-run.

Lewis’ civil lawsuit against Marston led to a $536,837 settlement. The total included $400,000 for loss of companionship and support, $100,000 for loss of economic support and $36,837 for medical bills.

“They’ve confessed that she was liable,” said Lewis’ lawyer, Randall Smith, who acknowledged that Marston lacks the money to pay the judgment.

Smith plans to try to recover the money from GEICO, the auto insurer he claims was insuring Marston at the time of the crash.

Smith said that while GEICO tried to cancel Marston’s policy for nonpayment sometime around the time of the crash, she had paid for coverage through that date and GEICO’s effort to cancel her policy was invalid. GEICO disputes that it was insuring Marston when the crash happened.

If Lewis fails to recover the money from GEICO, his lawyer plans to seek payment from Ethel Lewis’ insurer, Farm Family Casualty Insurance Co., under her policy’s uninsured motorist coverage.

Farm Family is not admitting liability in the death, however, and the settlement approved last week states that the insurer is not bound by its terms.


Information from: Portland Press Herald,

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