FORT EDWARD — A state Supreme Court jury has awarded a Granville man more than $4.8 million for the 2015 drunken driving crash that killed his wife.
The jury found that the woman who caused the crash and her father, who owned the vehicle she was driving, were civilly liable for the May 26, 2015, collision on Route 22 in Granville that killed 47-year-old Elizabeth Gibson.
The jury found that Kristina Loomis and her father, Melvin Loomis, were jointly responsible for the horrific crash.
Kristina Loomis was drunk, pleaded guilty to first-degree vehicular manslaughter and was sentenced to 4 to 12 years in state prison.
After a four-day trial before Justice Glen Bruening, the panel directed the Loomises to pay $3,365,000 in compensatory damages jointly, and also imposed $1.5 million in punitive damages on Kristina Loomis.
Gibson’s husband, David Gibson, sued and his lawyer, Victor Mazzotti of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti in Albany, said Mrs. Gibson suffered the night she died because of the Loomises’ actions. Mazzotti and his son, Phil Mazzotti, tried the case on behalf of David Gibson.
Kristina Loomis had a blood alcohol content of 0.29 percent and cocaine in her bloodstream after the collision, and a history of at least three prior DWI arrests.
“She was a ticking time bomb that day,” Mazzotti said.
Melvin Loomis was criminally charged in 2016 for allowing his daughter to drive the Cadillac sedan, knowing that her driving privileges had been revoked because of an extensive drunken driving history.
He was found not guilty of misdemeanor and non-criminal charges following a trial in February 2017, despite the fact the man who sold the car to him testified that Kristina Loomis was the only person to test drive it before it was purchased, and State Police ticketed her for driving it five months before the crash.
The Supreme Court jury this week, though, found that he permitted his daughter to use the car.
Kirstina Loomis was not called as a witness during the trial and her counsel did not dispute that she was at fault.
It remains unclear how much of the verdict will be collected.
The car’s insurance policy will not cover the majority of it, so Gibson’s counsel can try to collect from whatever assets of the Loomises that can be found and get judgments on real property they own.
Mazzotti said the case wasn’t about the money for David Gibson, but was more a quest for justice.
“The jury sent a message that drunk driving will not be tolerated,” he said. “Hopefully, this will bring the family some sort of closure.”
The punitive damages are notable because they cannot be discharged by bankruptcy.
“It’s important for our community to know that if you drive while intoxicated, not only can you be found guilty in the criminal matter, but you could be paying for driving while intoxicated for the rest of your life from the civil matter,” Phil Mazzotti said.
The verdict can be appealed.
Mr. Loomis was represented by the law firm of Burke, Scolamiero & Hurd of Albany.
Attorney Judith Aumand said, “We appreciate the time and effort of the jurors throughout the trial. At this time, we are exploring all potential options on behalf of our client.”
Kristina Loomis’ lawyer, Todd Bushway, said his firm’s policy is not to discuss its cases in the media.
Kristina Loomis, 35, is being held in Albion Correctional Facility and is eligible for release to parole supervision in May.