Friday, July 7, 2017

THE VENUS WILLIAMS WRONGFUL DEATH SUIT: Circuit Judge Cymonie Rowe on Wednesday granted a request by Williams’ attorney to temporarily prevent a data download from the car occupied by victim Jerome Barson, 78

Venus Williams

Venus Williams wins emergency court ruling in fatal crash wrongful death lawsuit

A Palm Beach County judge has granted an emergency request by an attorney for Venus Williams to temporarily stop data downloads from the vehicles in the wrongful death lawsuit against the tennis star. A hearing on the matter is set for Friday.

Venus Williams’ lawyer has obtained an emergency order in the wrongful death lawsuit against the tennis great over her June 9 crash in Palm Beach Gardens.

Circuit Judge Cymonie Rowe on Wednesday granted a request by Williams’ attorney to temporarily prevent a data download from the car occupied by victim Jerome Barson, 78.

The court has scheduled a hearing on the matter at 2:30 p.m. Friday at the Palm Beach County Courthouse.

Barson died June 22 from traumatic injuries in the crash, including a broken spine and massive internal bleeding.

Williams is currently in London competing in the Wimbledon tennis championships and is not expected in court. She is scheduled to play a third-round match on Friday.

On Wednesday, Williams’ attorney asked the court to intervene and stop the Barson estate’s lawyers from inspecting and getting information from the 2016 Hyundai Accent.

The concern is that the planned download by Barson attorney Michael Steinger could fail and the data would be lost, argued attorney Kevin Yombor of Fort Lauderdale. He asked for the judge to approve a joint inspection carried out by experts for both sides.

Both the Accent and Williams’ 2010 Toyota Sequoia are being stored at a West Palm Beach tow yard, records show.

“The on-board data of both vehicles will be critical evidence,” Yombor wrote. “The actions taken by Plaintiff should not occur until … a procedure is in place to ensure that the data of each vehicle is properly collected.”

Palm Beach Gardens police say the crash remains under investigation. Williams has not been cited with any traffic violations.

Attorneys for the Barson estate could not be reached for comment Thursday despite attempts by email and phone.

The crash happened in the intersection of Northlake Boulevard and BallenIsles Drive.

Williams was driving north toward BallenIsles, where she lives, while the Barsons, who reside west of Palm Beach Gardens, were heading west on Northlake. Linda Barson, 68, was driving her husband of 33 years.

Williams’ SUV was hit on the right side by the Barsons’ Hyundai when the Toyota came through the intersection in front of the Barsons, police wrote in an initial report released last week.

“The driver of [the Toyota] is at fault for violating the right of way of [the Hyundai],” the police report stated, listing Williams speed as 5 mph and the Barsons’ speed as 25 mph.

But the cars’ “black boxes” could provide information about the speed at the time of impact.

Williams and Barson both said they had green lights. Williams told an officer she stopped “in the median break due to other traffic.”

The lawsuit blames Williams for “failing to yield the right of way, failing to stop at a red-light ... failing to stop for oncoming traffic, driving too fast for the conditions, driving carelessly and recklessly, and distracted driving.”

After her opening round victory at Wimbledon on Monday, Williams, 37, cried when speaking to reporters about the crash.

“There are no words to describe, like, how devastating and, yeah,” she said as her words trailed off. “Yeah, I am completely speechless.”

On Williams’ Facebook page, she posted a statement Friday after being sued: “I am devastated and heartbroken by this accident. My heartfelt condolences go out to the family and friends of Jerome Barson and I continue to keep them in my thoughts and prayers.”


Venus Williams: Brandy Norwood’s wrongful death lawsuit is a cautionary tale
By Yvette Caslin | June 30, 2017 2:04 PM EST

NEW YORK – AUGUST 25: Venus Williams attends press conference at Arthur Ash stadium on August 25, 2012 in Queens New York (Photo Credit: Lev Radin)

Michael Steinger is the attorney for Linda Barson, wife of Jerome Barson, 78, who died during a fatal car crash involving Venus Williams.

On “Good Morning America” on Friday, June 30, Steinger said that the family will file suit against the tennis star over the accident that left Jerome with head injuries. Barson died two weeks after the crash.

A police report obtained by TMZ Sports states that Williams, who was driving a 2010 Toyota Sequoia, is “at fault for violating the right of way of [the other driver].” Williams’ SUV darted into an intersection in Palm Beach Gardens. Linda Barson, who was also injured, said she could not stop her 2016 Hyundai Accent in time and hit Williams’ car.

“At this point we are attempting to both preserve the evidence and gain access to evidence,” Steinger said. “There were video cameras placed at guard houses where Ms. Williams lives; police have refused after multiple requests to turn those over to us, and we would like to see visual portrayal of the accident on those videos. They have impounded all the vehicles and have impeded our ability to do our investigation and move forward. Not sure what their reasoning is. They have refused to turn them over to us at this point.”

LAS VEGAS – MAY 20: Brandy Norwood at the 2012 Billboard Music Awards held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 20, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada (Photo Credit: By Joe Seer)

Similarly, in 2007, a wrongful death suit was filed against Grammy Award-winning singer Brandy Norwood by the parents of a woman who died in a Los Angeles freeway car crash involving the singer. The parents of victim Awatef Aboudihaj, 38, claimed both compensatory and punitive damages in the amount of $50 million. According to reports, Norwood was driving her Land Rover at 65 miles per hour.

Norwood’s vehicle hit a 2005 Toyota, which then hit a 1989 Toyota. The 2005 Toyota slid sideways into the center divider and was hit by a 1988 Acura. Aboudihaj was the driver of the 2005 Toyota. The mother of one was taken to Holy Cross Hospital and died the next day from blunt-force injuries, according to the coroner’s office.

On Nov. 13, 2009, Norwood reached a settlement with Marouane Hdidou, husband of Awatef Aboudihaj, the mother of two who was killed in the December 2006 crash. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.