Car accident victim’s family wins $2.8M in court case

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A Calvert County jury has awarded $2.8 million to the family of a Prince Frederick man killed in a car accident two years ago.

The wrongful death award was handed down, to the victim Michael J. Funchion’s wife Kathleen and his two sons, in court on Friday May 18, 2018.

“If a third party’s negligence or the wrongful act of someone has resulted in the death of a loved one, the victim’s immediate family members may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit with the help of wrongful death lawyers.” These claims are intended to compensate family members of the deceased person for losses resulting from the death.  according to Cogan & Power, P.C.

The award includes $1.5 million in noneconomic damages, which is higher than Maryland’s cap on noneconomic damages this will bring the total award down to approximately $2.5 million.

Funchion was in his car at a stop sign on westbound Nursery Road trying to make a right onto northbound Maryland Route 4 in Lusby on May 18, 2013, when he was hit by a large Ford F-550 truckdriven by Kenneth V. Klingensmith Jr. heading northbound on Route 4.

“The collision occurred with so much force that it caused Mr. Funchion’s car to be launched and spun approximately 100 yards off of the road, which resulted in Mr. Funchion being ejected from his car,” states the complaint, filed in October 2013 in Calvert County Circuit Court.

Klingensmith’s truck, owned by his employer, Ameri-Star Homes, continued forward for approximately 100 yards before overturning, according to the complaint. Klingensmith later told police he fell asleep at the wheelbut tests showed he had multiple drugs in his system, including cocaine and marijuana.

“We believe he passed out,” said Andrew G. Slutkin, one of the Funchion family’s lawyers. During the four-day trial before Judge E. Gregory Wells, Ameri-Star argued that while Klingensmith was an employee, he was using the truck with the company’s permission for a side job, Slutkin said. But the plaintiffs’ lawyers were able to show Klingensmith was doing work for one of Ameri-Star’s banks, Slutkin said.

Funchion was an engineer and had a side business rehabilitating homes with his son, Jerry. The two were driving home in separate cars from a home improvement project they were working on when the accident occurred. Jerry Funchion, who had already turned onto Maryland Route 4 when the collision occurred, turned around and was with his father for Michael Funchion’s final moments, according to Slutkin. Jerry Funchion, two eyewitnesses, and a medical examiner all testified at trial that Michael Funchion was in “excruciating pain” Slutkin said. Michael Funchion was transported by ambulance to Calvert Memorial Hospital, where he was eventually pronounced dead.

“You never want your client to suffer, but as a lawyer, that’s something you have to prove,” said Slutkin. Slutkin and his co-counsel also used the many moving violations on Klingensmith’s record dating back to the early 1980s, to help prove their case against Ameri-Star homes, and Klingensmith.

Klingensmith was found guilty of negligent driving and failing to obey traffic signs and lane directions in connection with Funchion’s death and fined more than $450, according to online court records.

Slutkin credited the Funchion family for helping to persuade the jury of four men and two women, to come back with a positive verdict after only two hours of deliberations. “Mike and Kathy Funchion had a truly special relationship, as did their children,” he said. “I think the jury saw that.” Steven R. Migdal of Buck, Migdal & Cuches, Chtd. in Annapolis, who represented Glen Burnie-based Ameri-Star and Klingensmith, did not respond to a call for comment.