Thursday, March 29, 2007

KATV Being Sued by Family of Woman Killed in Ells Accident

Source: Associated Press The family of a woman killed when a car driven by University of Arkansas football broadcaster Paul Eells crossed the median of Interstate 40 and hit her car has sued the television station where he worked. The suit filed by the family of Billie Jo Burton of Dover claims that the station was negligent.

The 70-year-old Eells, who worked for KATV in Little Rock, and the 40-year-old Burton both died in the accident last July 31 near Russellville. The Burton family sued in Pope County Circuit Court but the lawsuit was moved Tuesday to federal court in Little Rock.

In its response Thursday, the television station denied negligence. In its filing, the station acknowledged only that Eells worked for it, that he and Burton died of injuries suffered in a car accident and that Eells played golf and worked for the station on the day he died.

The Burton family lawsuit said Eells was negligent and that KATV, because Eells worked for the station and was driving a car that the station owned, was also at fault.

55 Comments:

At 10:45 PM, March 29, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unbelievable.

 
At 10:54 PM, March 29, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also heard that the family has a suit against god as well. Seems he was at fault that day also...the court date for that suit will be held at a later date.

 
At 11:21 PM, March 29, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They probably sued the vet when lightning struck the dog as well.

 
At 11:37 PM, March 29, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is just tasteless and unhonorable. Suing isn't going to bring her back... and it's just going stir up feelings..

 
At 11:40 PM, March 29, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i thought paul was driving his own car when the accident happened

 
At 11:42 PM, March 29, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

KATV keeps getting sued because their a-holes. If they weren't a-holes they wouldn't get sued. And for Eells being negligent ... he made a life-ending mistake. An honest mistake. That is all.

 
At 11:47 PM, March 29, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

11:42,

Exactly. Paul didn't cross the median and crash on purpose. This lawsuit just proves the fact that there are too many sue-happy people out there.

 
At 11:48 PM, March 29, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sad sad sad. After the accident...the family made it a point to tell the media they were not going to file suit.

I'm guessing an attorney heard their story, and encouraged them to do this.

Unreal.

 
At 11:55 PM, March 29, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I actually thought very highly of their family when they didn't sue. With any luck, this will be thrown out. I read elsewhere that both parties have asked for a jury-trial. This is a good idea, because we all know the average Arkansan is going to think this is wrong.

A lot of us may not like KATV very much, and they may be a-holes, but even their rivals should see this is uncalled for.

 
At 6:06 AM, March 30, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That just sucks. They are going to alienate themselves big time and I have to believe that she is not happy that her family is doing this.

Sad, sad, sad.

 
At 7:54 AM, March 30, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will concur that Paul Eells was a good man. No, make that a very good man, one who anyone in our business should strive to follow, both in career and the way he lived his life.

But allow me to play the Devil's Advocate here for a second...

...maybe KATV didn't make a respectable monetary offer to the family after the crash. Maybe they told the family, "if there's anything we can do..." for the first days and then shut off contact after a few weeks (it's been known to happen). Maybe, maybe, maybe...I know.

Suing won't bring back this person (or Paul, for that matter), of course, but, in a legal sense (if not a sense of what is truly "right" or "wrong"), the family can argue, with a reasonable certainty of gaining leverage on KATV, that if Paul wasn't on the road that day, at that specific time...the other person in this crash would, very likely, still be alive.

Driving, of course, presents an "unspoken social contract" each time you drive, with the possibility that you or a loved one could very well be killed at any moment. Which is why this can be so distasteful to so many.

However, if you are walking down the street...and are hit by a car (or bus), even accidentally, and killed, you'd better believe there will be a lawsuit.

I won't rake this family over the proverbial coals just yet. Maybe KATV really is at fault...to some extent. Maybe they wouldn't spring for a hotel room for Paul or they insisted, even without saying it, that he get back to LR for whatever reason. They probably know more than any of us do.

Let's continue to mourn Paul Eells but hold off skewering this family at this point.

 
At 8:44 AM, March 30, 2007, Anonymous an oBserver said...

7:54AM
You make some excellent and insightful points. Others on this blog would be well advised to give such thought and consideration before posting here.

 
At 8:47 AM, March 30, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No doubt some money hungry, ambulance chasing attorney got a hold of that family.

 
At 9:40 AM, March 30, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe KATV's insurance didn't want to pay up so the family had to resort to this. Notice they're not suing the Eells family. They probably have to claim negligence in the lawsuit in order to force the insurance company to pay. This happens all the time.

 
At 10:02 AM, March 30, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

7:54 AM posting again at this moment.

"No doubt some money hungry, ambulance chasing attorney got a hold of that family."

And a company like KATV and Albritton, without doubt, has plenty of money-hungry attorneys on their side. I'm a person who is extremely pro-business (especially for one in TV media). I see nothing wrong with "matching the lawyering" on the other side, especially if you were the party not at fault. If you have gone into legal action with a corporation, you HAVE to "lawyer up" yourself.

If KATV has any compassion in this situation, they'll pay a reasonable amount through their insurance for what happened.

 
At 10:54 AM, March 30, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that people are sue happy and why wait so long and bring back all of this??

 
At 11:13 AM, March 30, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When all else fails... sue.

 
At 6:01 PM, March 30, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

He did cross over and was the cause of the deaths. Check the accident report if in doubt.

 
At 6:39 PM, March 30, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's still not the station's fault. I don't care if he was on a suicide mission and crossed the median on purpose. Perhaps they should sue the state of Arkansas for not having barricades between the lanes.

 
At 8:21 PM, March 30, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

However, he was coming back from an event as a representative of KATV. Even if he's on the way back from an appearance in his own car, he's still on KATV time until he reaches his end destination.

Having recently served on a jury (civil case) I can see where the family could, and should receive compensation.

The accident and situation are tragic. I feel for Paul's family and The Burton's.

For the Burton's to take it this far, they must have been offered little or none from the insurance company of KATV which lead them to this lawsuit. I agree with 7:54. Don't skewer the family just yet.

 
At 9:02 PM, March 30, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If not the station's fault, why would they offer anything at all in the form of a settlement? Think about it.

 
At 9:49 PM, March 30, 2007, Blogger DCG said...

how much is the family sueing for? probably millions. No amount of money can bring someone back. It was an ACCIDENT..meaning an unplanned, tragic event. the family is just out for money and nothing more. In my view, KATV or anyone for that matters owes the family NOTHING.

 
At 9:55 PM, March 30, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i know for a fact that KATV payed the Burton family a HUGE chunk of change from the insurance settlement. this is stupid that they are asking for more money

 
At 8:15 AM, March 31, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortunately DCG, that's not the way things work, unplanned or otherwise, it was still an accident that caused the death of another. It wasn't intentional, but it happened. Think about this, If that person in the car driven by Mrs. Burton, were a member of your family that was killed, you'd want compensation as well, that's what insurance is for. Especially if that person in your family had a full time job and contributed to paying the bills, taking care of your kids, etc, that and working through the emotional drain. True, the money will not bring back your family member. Insurance companies like to settle in stituations like this. If KATV did give the Burton family a significant amount of money to "settle" things without going to court, then the Burton's shouldn't come back and sue for more. However, it sounds like one of those "ambulance chaser" attorneys has "tainted the well" so to speak. KATV if you did the right thing and did compensate the family, then you have done your good deed.

If there were no compensation, then KATV will more than likely pay some amount. Millions? probably not. But whatever the case, the only winner will be the unethical lawyer and law firm that convinced the family that they could get millions more from KATV and its parent company. The real scum in this case is the above. Not KATV or the Burton Family.

 
At 8:17 AM, March 31, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know for a fact? Did you see the check? Did you sign the check? And how much was that chunk of change?

Please do tell. You seem to be in the know, so now show us how credible you are.

 
At 10:20 AM, March 31, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Traffic "accidents" happen everyday and usually the police, or eventually the courts, make the determination of who was at fault and therefore liable monetarily for the accident. In this case a greatly loved man in Central Arkansas crossed the median into oncoming traffic and killed someones mother through no fault of her own. It was a horrendous tragedy on both counts. It doesn't take a genius or a lawyer to figure out who is liable for the accident.
DCG-Mr. Blogger- If someone crossed the center line and totalled your car and then stated.."sorry it was an accident and you won't be compensated" I would imagine you would be singing a different tune. Isn't this incredibly basic?

 
At 12:56 PM, March 31, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paul wasn't owned by KATV. He was just an employee. If I was on my way to a meeting in Shreveport, and I got distracted and crossed the center line, and killed both my self and another driver, I wouldn't expect my company to pay for it.

 
At 4:35 PM, March 31, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"and I got distracted . . . "

Distracted by what?

What distracted him?

 
At 6:17 PM, March 31, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Think aobut this...it is now KATV's policy that any employee that travels a few hours from Little Rock...aka Fayetteville...has to spend the night...yes KATV does not want this to happen again, but this shows that they knew that they were doing something wrong, by not making employees spend the night in Fayetteville. I wish other stations in the market had this policy.

 
At 6:22 PM, March 31, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Paul wasn't owned by KATV"

If he was under contract, he was "owned."

 
At 6:41 PM, March 31, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey 12:56. Paul was on company time at the time of the accident, therefore, the company is liable. Yes, if Paul was under contract, it is as good as saying he was "owned." You should read the wording of these broadcast contracts. You belong to them! Once again, the only winners will be the blood-sucking lawyers who have encouraged the family to go after more.

 
At 12:06 AM, April 01, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Insurance compensation or not, an accident involving the death of someone else doesn't necessarily constitute negligence. KATV will win this thing going away. Everybody knows Paul Eell's reputation. He's not the kind of man to engage in "negligent" behavior. This family and their loser law firm have a tall task ahead of them trying to persuade a jury that Paul Eells or KATV acted negligent. That's a pretty extreme level of behavior. The car accident boils down to an honest, fluke mistake. Fluke mistakes aren't negligence.

 
At 1:14 AM, April 01, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, let's not skewer the Burtons yet. We do not know all the facts.

As for your comment, DCG, parts of what you say are indeed correct. However, when you say that it is "my view" that "the family is just out for money," I can't help but be alarmed. While you are certainly entitled to your own views, you are the moderator of this blog, and, as such, it seems you should try to publicly maintain some objectivity. That's basic journalism -- whether it's a blog, newspaper or newscast.

 
At 4:15 PM, April 01, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Fluke mistakes aren't negligence."

Sure they are. Read some court records.

 
At 4:21 PM, April 01, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

He got tired and over-heated and then drove back on KATV's clock.

 
At 10:55 PM, April 01, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree dgc. Picking sides leads to the end of blogs sometimes. Given all the work you do on this, maybe that's what you want and no one would blame you!

This is a legal thing pure and simple. A family lost their mother and her husband lost a wife and legally-speaking, a wage earner.

The lives of people have monetary value. She was at the prime of life, an excellent mother and had a positive impact on her community. Like it or not, that has a dollar sign attached.

The only way to send a message in our legal system is how much money is paid. It's not the Burton's fault about that.

Driving a station car, Paul was a representative of KATV and anyone in the insurance business will tell you that Paul was in essence driving a station vehicle. It doesn't matter if KATV was plastered on the side or not.

It's the reason most businesses won't let someone not attached to the business ride in the car. They become liable.

I don't think the Burton's are money grubbers and I don't think they think any less of Paul Eels or his family. Given how cheap insurance companies and TV stations are, I'd like a definition of "big chunk of change" that may or may not have been given to the Burton's.

I think they're trying to make sure the girls go to college. Maybe they're trying to send a message that an elderly man with a pretty long history of medical problems should have had the option of getting a room and the station pay for it.

Instead, it appears he was treated like a 25-year-old photographer and be expected to drive hundreds of miles after a long day at work.

Think of it this way. If it had been Ms. Burton who crossed the median in her company car and slammed into Paul head-on, would you blame Mrs. Eels for suing and call her a money grubber?

I know one thing. I knew Paul and I know he would have NO problem with that family trying to get some money for their future.

 
At 10:56 PM, April 01, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"a husband lost a wife..."

 
At 8:02 AM, April 02, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW...every comment on every side of this issue is astounding.

I am not a lawyer here, but it seems to me that if the accident was on company time, then yes, the company is liable.

If true that KATV now allows employees an overnight in Fayetteville, then that also speaks to the fact that they feel a level of responsibility in having Paul drive back to the Rock that night.

Also...no one seems to dispute the fact it WAS an accident...but MOST injury lawsuits stem FROM ACCIDENTS...not intentional harm. Did a restaurant INTEND for a customer to slip on a wet floor? NO. See my point, anyone?

 
At 11:56 AM, April 02, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the posters that IT IS ALARMING that DCG has weighed in so far to one side and so passionately on this issue. If there is to be any journalistic integrity within this blog (and frankly there often isn't) DCG who OFTEN edits this site's postings cannot take sides in the tone in which he did. He does edit postings. Is this site just a format to post blogs to forward his opinions?

 
At 11:58 AM, April 02, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ownership has its privileges

 
At 2:50 PM, April 02, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For DCG's 9:49 p.m. March 30 post --

Please don't be too harsh on the Burton family. A good friend of mine was killed in February by another sports celebrity when he crossed the center line and hit her head on. Unlike Mr. Eeels, this guy survived. Of course, he didn't mean to hit her, but he did. We'll never know what caused Mr. Eells to cross the center line; but, in both cases, they were unintentional accidents, and the parties who caused them are responsible. If Mr. Eells were alive, and the Burton family tried to sue him, he'd pass it along to his employer if he was traveling on company business - whether he's driving a company car or not. You'd feel differently if one of your lived ones was innocently killed by another driver.

 
At 9:38 AM, April 03, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, it was an injury accident, but there weren't any blatantly irresponsible mistakes made ahead of time that a reasonable person could have foreseen as a hazard. I just don't see negligence here. Negligence connotes a blatant disregard for safety. It means someone threw common sense to the wind and someone suffered because of it. That didn't happen here.

It wasn't like Mr. Eells was driving drunk or hanging one leg out of his window while he talks on the phone and smokes a cigarette.

The main legal question isn't "Does the Burton family deserve compensation?" They probably do because they probably need it, but that's not the question. And merit shouldn't be a factor here. The question is "Was KATV negligent?" No way. And it's not fair to shackle a company with damages when there's no negligence. There's no negligence because a reasonable person couldn't anticipate an accident like the one Mr. Eells was responsible for. I'm no legal expert, but that's what I'd argue in a court.

 
At 11:14 AM, April 03, 2007, Anonymous an oBserver said...

9:38AM

You said it best yourself. You are NO legal expert.
This is also the reason why we should ALL be grateful that juries are selected with each side being allowed to exclude a certain number of individuals.
Where do all you people come off judging this family? No one HERE knows ALL the facts. Why don't you wait and see what happens before passing judgement? Not that any of you here are fit to judge anyone. Try looking in a mirror and consider how you would feel if this were your family member. Remember no one here knows what KATV or their insurer has or has not done for the Burton family. Try thinking before posting your critical drivel here.

 
At 5:17 PM, April 03, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You said it best yourself. You are NO legal expert.
This is also the reason why we should ALL be grateful that juries are selected with each side being allowed to exclude a certain number of individuals.
Where do all you people come off judging this family? No one HERE knows ALL the facts. Why don't you wait and see what happens before passing judgement? Not that any of you here are fit to judge anyone. Try looking in a mirror and consider how you would feel if this were your family member. Remember no one here knows what KATV or their insurer has or has not done for the Burton family. Try thinking before posting your critical drivel here.


Thank you Mr. Trial Lawyer...just remember people "If they don't win your case, you don't owe them a dime!"

 
At 7:19 PM, April 03, 2007, Anonymous an oBserver said...

That's the best you can do? As the ONLY poster who regularly posts under something other than anonymous, it's clear I am no attorney. All I am saying is that I am glad that we have courts and juries to decide these arguments. What scares me is that idiots like you may have registered to vote and thus may be called upon to sit on a jury. Our system may be flawed but show me one that's better.

Who knows what's happened here? Maybe KATV's insurance company or their attorneys wouldn't allow any monies to be paid out to the Burtons? For all any of us know, the Burtons have received nothing but emergency medical and funeral bills. This may not be the fault of KATV management. I'm not taking sides for or against anybody. I don't know and THAT'S THE POINT. You don't either. Everyone here is quick to judge under the cover of anonymity.

 
At 10:15 PM, April 03, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know and THAT'S THE POINT. You don't either. Everyone here is quick to judge under the cover of anonymity.

What I know is this: 2 very wonderful people are dead and someone is trying to make a buck off of it. I find that repulsive.

 
At 10:15 PM, April 03, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, you're SO brave. Really, how is posting as "an observer" any better than using "anonymous" like the rest of us.

Also, MANY of us have aleady said the exact same thing you have that we don't know all the facts.

Get over yourself.

 
At 10:16 PM, April 03, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry. That last post is meant as a respons for 7:19, not the other 10:15.

 
At 6:07 AM, April 04, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When there is an accident, someone is always at fault.

 
At 9:53 PM, April 04, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you say entropy... The lawyers can and they make a living off it. Get used to living in America. YOU created this society and its norms.

 
At 4:01 PM, April 05, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

YOU PEOPLE DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT. THE INSURANCE COMPANY HASN'T YET DETERMINED THE CAUSE OF THE ACCIDENT, SO NO BENEFITS HAVE BEEN PAID THE FAMILY. NOT EVEN FROM THE BURTON'S INSURANCE COMPANY, SO SUING IS THE ONLY WAY TO FORCE THIS TO HAPPEN. IF YOU KNEW THE FAMILY YOU WOULD KNOW THIS IS NOT ABOUT GETTING EVEN, OR EVEN TRYING TO GET A BUNCH OF MONEY. IF YOU HAD A CAR WRECK THAT LONG AGO, YOU WOULD EXPECT THE LOOSE ENDS WOULD BE TIED UP BY NOW.

 
At 11:00 AM, April 06, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

YOU PEOPLE DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT. THE INSURANCE COMPANY HASN'T YET DETERMINED THE CAUSE OF THE ACCIDENT, SO NO BENEFITS HAVE BEEN PAID THE FAMILY. NOT EVEN FROM THE BURTON'S INSURANCE COMPANY, SO SUING IS THE ONLY WAY TO FORCE THIS TO HAPPEN.

So....if the cause of the accident hasn't been determined, how can anybody be considered negligent??? Now if Paul, the station, or the ring around Uranus is determined to actually be the cause, then fine, sue. But if after 9 months, if the insurance company has done nothing, then the Burton's should sue them, because they are at fault.

 
At 4:31 PM, April 06, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is enough about this topic... let's all move on

 
At 10:20 PM, April 06, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You move on.

 
At 10:23 PM, April 06, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I can't move on until KATV takes Paul's picture down from their window.

 

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