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Jury awards $9 million to couple after Hampton pedestrian accident

Union Leader Correspondent

January 19. 2018 8:37PM
Remi Gross-Santos, 17 at the time, leaves the Hampton police station after being booked following a crash on June 12, 2014. He had fallen asleep while driving from an all-night party the day before his high school graduation and struck two women while they were walking along Ocean Boulevard in Hampton. (Union Leader file photo)

BRENTWOOD - A jury has awarded $9 million to a Hampton woman and her husband as part of a verdict in a civil lawsuit over a pedestrian accident in 2014 that left the woman permanently injured.

The jury announced its verdict in favor of Chuck and Karen Weinhold on Friday after a two-week trial in Rockingham County Superior Court.

Weinhold sued the state, R.S. Audley Inc., and Remi Gross-Santos, who fell asleep while driving from an all-night party the day before his high school graduation and struck Weinhold and Lisa Beaudry while they were walking along Ocean Boulevard in Hampton on June 12, 2014. Beaudry also sued and settled her case.

Gross-Santos, who was 17 at the time of the crash, was convicted of second-degree assault for his role in the crash, but Weinhold filed suit claiming that Gross-Santos wasn’t the only one to blame.

She argued that R.S. Audley created a danger when it closed down a protected walkway on the east side of Ocean Boulevard and forced pedestrians across the street to the unprotected west side. The change was made during construction work on the seawall at North Beach.

Weinhold maintained that the state was also liable because it had approved the plan.

Her attorney, Scott Harris, said the state and R.S. Audley, which blamed Gross-Santos for the crash, had “needlessly increased danger to pedestrians.”

Jurors awarded $8.5 million in damages to Weinhold for her medical bills, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life, Harris said.

The jury also awarded $500,000 to her husband for damages he suffered.

Harris said the state is responsible for 40 percent of the damages, R.S. Audley 30 percent, and Gross-Santos 30 percent.

“We’re pleased because the Weinholds truly are an extraordinary family. They’ve suffered really catastrophic harms and losses as a consequence of this incident,” Harris said.

Harris said Weinhold suffered permanent injuries that have altered the way she speaks and make it difficult for her to eat and swallow because of damage to her esophagus.

“The injuries to Karen have really taken away her identity,” he said.

It’s unclear whether the state and R.S. Audley will appeal the verdict. Their lawyers did not immediately return calls seeking comment Friday afternoon.

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