The estate of Brian Gallaher, the late band director at Ocoee Middle School killed in a June 25 accident on Interstate 75, is suing the truck driver who crashed his tractor-trailer into Gallagher's vehicle and other slow-moving traffic in a construction zone.
The lawsuit is seeking $11 million from Kentucky-based Cool Runnings Express and its driver, Benjamin Brewer, for negligence in the fatal nine-vehicle wreck that killed six and injured 12 others.
Gallaher was driving a 2010 Toyota Prius northbound on I-75 near Ooltewah when he and other slow-moving and stopped traffic were struck from behind by a tractor-trailer driven by Brewer.
Gallaher's estate, represented by his widow, Jaclyn, is suing Cool Runnings and Brewer for an additional $11 million, for wrongful death and personal injuries.
The lawsuit also names Billy Ray and Cretta Sizemore (owners of Cool Runnings) and Charity Pennington (Brewer's fiancee, who was in the truck during the wreck) as defendants.
The lawsuit claims negligence on behalf of the company and Brewer resulted in the personal injury of Gallaher's family and the wrongful death of Gallaher.
The lawsuit is the first to be filed on behalf of a deceased victim of the June crash.
In court documents, Brewer is accused of "operating his tractor-trailer at an unreasonably dangerous speed" and failing to "slow and stop his truck."
"The tractor-trailer essentially mowed over and crushed the vehicles he struck," according to court documents.
Cool Runnings Express is accused of failure to perform a background check on Brewer, as well as failure to check his commercial driving history and previous employment.
Brewer tested positive for drugs after the wreck and was found to have violated federal commercial hours of service regulations leading up to it. Brewer had been on duty for nearly 50 consecutive hours in the days leading up to the wreck and had been driving for 15 hours straight when he crashed in Chattanooga.
Brewer is now being held without bond at Hamilton County jail. Earlier this year, a Hamilton County Grand Jury indicted Brewer on 13 charges, including six counts of vehicular homicide.
Contact staff writer Alex Green at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6480.