The father of a child killed in an ATV crash two years ago accuses the driver of negligence in a $3 million lawsuit filed Monday.
Jonathan Clatterbuck filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Warren County Circuit Court against Jerrell S. Leadman Jr. and William T. Vaught Jr.
Clatterbuck demands judgment against both defendants, jointly and severally, in the amount of $3 million in damages. Clatterbuck also requests a jury trial.
Neither defendant had filed responses to the complaint as of Wednesday.
Leadman, 63, of 221 Whitney Lane, Bentonville, recently served three months in Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail for involuntary manslaughter for causing the accidental death of Clatterbuck’s 7-year-old daughter, Olivia, on Aug. 10, 2021.
Leadman, who was Olivia’s step-grandfather, was released March 30. Vaught owned the property Leadman rents and where the fatal crash occurred. Clatterbuck’s younger son, Roman, also a passenger in the ATV, survived the crash.
Olivia died when the ATV, driven by Leadman at his residence, overturned and landed on her. She was not wearing a seatbelt or a helmet.
Clatterbuck, who lives in Rappahannock County, is named as the administrator of his late daughter’s estate. Warrenton attorney Andrew K. Thomas represents Clatterbuck and filed the complaint on the plaintiff’s behalf.
The complaint claims that Leadman operated the ATV negligently so that it overturned while on a sloped area of pasture covered with wet grass. The complaint states that Leadman: failed to keep a proper lookout; operated the ATV in a reckless manner, at an excessive speed given the circumstances and conditions and while under the influence of alcohol; failed to keep the vehicle under control; failed to secure his minor passenger with a safety belt and provide her with a safety helmet.
The complaint lists Olivia’s surviving beneficiaries: her father, her mother Amber M. Cooke and her four siblings. The plaintiff claims the survivors have sustained financial and pecuniary loss as a result of Olivia’s death and have suffered and will continue to suffer mental anguish.
The second count of negligence claims that Leadman, while having temporary custody of and caring for Olivia, had a duty to care for her safety. Leadman allowed Olivia to ride as a passenger in the ATV and then operated the vehicle negligently so as to cause it to overturn. Olivia suffered injuries that caused her death, the complaint states.
A third count of negligence against Leadman claims he owed a duty to Olivia as his minor guest, to conduct his activities with care for the child’s safety.
The fourth count in the complaint accuses Vaught of negligence by entrusting the ATV to Leadman, allowing Leadman to drive it at will and specifically during times he knew Leadman was caring for minor children.
“Defendant Vaught knew that Defendant Leadman had a regular habit of drinking alcohol and operating the ATV, thus creating a dangerous situation for his passengers and anyone in his vicinity during operation,” the complaint states.
“Defendant Vaught had a duty to use ordinary care in not entrusting a vehicle to an unfit driver likely to cause injury to others,” the complaint states.