April 6, 1979
A Madison County jury this week awarded damages to a Huntsville man who sued three teenagers and their parents because his car was wrecked at an intersection where a yield sign had allegedly been knocked down earlier in a “joy-ride” by the boys.
Edgar Rand Lehman Jr. represented by lawyer Allen Brinkley was awarded $1,950 from the boys and $410 from each of their parents for a total award of $3, 180.
Lehman had originally sued for $10,000 and included as defendants the City of Huntsville and the driver of the other car that failed to yield at a southeast Huntsville intersection because of the missing yield sign.
According to testimony, the sign had been knocked down two days before the October 17, 1977 accident in a joy-ride by the three 17-year old Grissom High students.
The City of Huntsville and Thomas Alva Sharp, whose car collided with Lehman’s were dismissed as defendants on the motion of Brinkley during the trial. The city had been sued for not replacing the yield sign before Lehman’s accident.
Brinkley said that other than the yield sign, at least 14 traffic control signs and three mailboxes were knocked down and that a guardrail at Arsenal Gate 1 on Martin Road was rammed in the 1:30 a.m. Saturday incidents.
He said the van occupied by the boys was stolen but no charges were brought because $900 restitution was made to the van owner. The ride ended when the boys wrecked and the van turned over in a ditch near Whitesburg School, Brinkley said.
The boys fled the wrecked van and were identified the next morning, Brinkley said. The van owner did not press charges after he was paid for the damage.
In the two-day trial, the boys admitted to destroying all the signs and mailboxes except the yield sign in question. Defense lawyer Robert Sellers Smith also called the parents to the stand to testify.
“The parents were held liable under an Alabama statute that makes parents liable up tp $500 for the willful acts of their minor children,” Brinkley said.
Brinkley called to the stand an eyewitness to the destruction of the yield sign, neighbors whose mailboxes were damage investigating police officers, and the three teen-agers.
An 11 member jury-a women became ill on the first day and was excused by agreement of both sides - deliberated three and a half hours before returning a verdict.