ROCKLAND, Maine — The family of a Warren woman who died last year in a fatal car crash has been awarded a judgment of more than $1.1 million in a civil lawsuit against the driver.
Whether that money will be collected is uncertain.
On Tuesday, Justice Daniel Billings issued a judgment of $1,155,000 for Kenneth D. Low, who is the personal representative of the estate of Alison M. Low in the lawsuit filed against 20-year-old Samuel Simmons of Spruce Head.
Simmons pleaded no contest earlier this month in Knox County Unified Court to manslaughter and one count of driving to endanger. The no contest plea results in a conviction, the same as if he had pleaded guilty, but allows Simmons to contest his guilt in any civil lawsuits.
The plea was entered after the defense attorney and prosecutor reached an agreement that calls for a sentence of 12 years with all but up to nine months suspended. Simmons’ attorney, Eric “Rick” Morse, will be able to argue for less than nine months at the sentencing hearing that will be held next month.
Tuesday’s judgment was the second against Simmons this year. This summer, Olivia Blachet, now 19, received a $5 million judgment in her civil suit against Simmons for negligence. As a passenger in the Low vehicle, Blachet was severely injured and spent more than five months at Maine Medical Center in Portland. She has lost the use of her left hand, Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Baroody said during Simmons’ plea hearing earlier this month.
Simmons did not have motor vehicle insurance, however, and it was not made clear how that either judgment may be collected. The Low’s attorney Alison Wholey Briggs said Wednesday she could not comment on the judgment or how any money could be recovered.
Baroody previously said that if the case had gone to trial, a witness would have testified that Simmons was driving erratically before the crash. Simmons was driving north on Route 1 in Warren on March 20, 2014, when his 1997 GMC Sierra pickup truck crossed the centerline near the intersection of Western Road and struck an oncoming 2003 Subaru Forester driven by Low.
Low, 38, died at the scene. Her 18-year-old son, Dustin Kimball of Warren, was seriously injured but recovered.
Simmons admitted to police he had smoked marijuana the night before. Tests done on Simmons found traces of marijuana that Baroody said would have resulted from recent use. Amphetamine also was found in Simmons’ system, the prosecutor pointed out.