Case details

Family: Driver under the influence of drugs hit jogger





Result type

Not present

On April 6, 2014, plaintiffs’ decedent Christopher Prewitt, 38, a school’s assistant principal, was jogging on Victoria Avenue, in Ventura, training for a marathon, when a vehicle operated by Shante Chappell struck him. Prewitt died at the scene. Chappell admitted to smoking marijuana and taking half a Xanax prior to the crash. She was criminally charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while under the influence. Chappell pleaded guilty to the offense 10 days after the accident, on April 16, 2014 and she was sentenced to prison. The decedent’s wife, Erin Prewitt, and his minor daughter, Isabella Prewitt, sued Chappell; the believed owner of Chappell’s vehicle, Lourdes Chappell; and the person who allegedly supplied drugs to Shante Chappell before the collision, Nicole Parker. The Prewitt family alleged that Shante Chappell was negligent in the operation of her vehicle and that Lourdes Chappell was vicariously liable for Shante Chappell’s actions. They also alleged that Parker was negligent for violating the Drug Dealer Liability Act. Although a police report stated that Lourdes Chappell owned Shante Chappell’s vehicle, it was later discovered to be not true. As a result, Lourdes Chappell was dismissed from the case. In addition, a default judgment was entered against Parker, and the matter continued against Shante Chappell only. Shante Chappell stipulated to liability but claimed that she was not under the influence of intoxicating substances at the time of the crash., Prewitt sustained traumatic and died at the scene. He was 38 years old and was survived by his wife, Erin Prewitt, who was a life coach, and his daughter, Isabella Prewitt, who was 12 years old at the time of the accident. Erin and Isabella Prewitt sought recovery of wrongful death damages. They also sought recovery of punitive damages against Shante Chappell. At trial, plaintiffs’ counsel asked the jury to award the Prewitt family $125 million in total damages. Defense counsel argued that the plaintiffs’ economic damages only totaled $2 million. Counsel also argued that punitive damages were not warranted, as Shante Chappell did not act with malice or oppression, had already been punished criminally and had no ability to pay.
Superior Court of Ventura County, Ventura, CA

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