PHILADELPHIA – A $3.1 million verdict reached earlier this year in a wrongful death case has been appealed from the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.
The case resulted from a 2013 fatal motor vehicle accident that was partially captured by the deceased’s motorcycle helmet camera. After a four-day in February trial, the jury returned with a unanimous 8-0 vote in favor of the plaintiff, Lenora Partlow, administratrix of the estate of Calvin M. Wilson Jr.
She is the mother of Wilson’s two young children.
The case's docket shows the defendant, Kahlile Gray, appealed the verdict and the denial of post-trial motions on Aug. 4 to the state Superior Court.
According to court documents, on April 4, 2013, at 7:15 p.m., Wilson was riding his motorcycle through a green light at the intersection of Belmont and Parkside avenues in West Philadelphia when he was struck by a Dodge Durango.
Gray, the driver of the SUV, turned left against traffic immediately in front of Wilson. According to police records, Gray was not only over the legal blood alcohol limit but also had several open alcoholic beverage containers in his vehicle at the time of the collision.
An attorney for the plaintiff, David L. Woloshin with Astor Weiss Kaplan & Mandel LLP, said that no criminal charges have been filed against Gray.
“The DA investigated this case for almost a year and determined that there was insufficient evidence to charge the other driver with vehicular homicide,” Woloshin told the Pennsylvania Record.
Partlow, who had recently become engaged to Wilson, claimed damages under both the Wrongful Death Act and the Survival Act. Awardedwere $1.25 million in wrongful death damages and $1.85 million in Survival Act damages, for a total of $3.1 million.
Under the Wrongful Death Act, a “plaintiff, on behalf of the surviving children, is entitled to be awarded an amount which will fairly compensate for the loss of services that the decedent, as father (mother) would have contributed to his (her) children” had he (she) lived.
For damages to be considered under the Survival Act, a case must be built that proves “the mental and physical pain, suffering and inconvenience that the decedent endured from the moment of his injury to the moment of his death as a result of this accident.”
“Proving conscious pain and suffering in a wrongful death case is difficult,” Woloshin said. “In Wilson, we worked with an eyewitness and a forensic neuropathologist in this context.”
Wilson was wearing a helmet camera at the time of the accident which captured images that made the case for the plaintiff easier to prove. The helmet camera showed Wilson throw his hands up in the air when he was ejected from the motorcycle, clearly showing that his “fight or flight” response had been activated.
“It is highly unusual that a helmet camera [would] capture the actual crash and death of the driver like it did in Wilson,” Woloshin said.