A semi driver seriously injured in a 2016 crash in Dubuque has filed a lawsuit claiming negligence against several parties, including the City of Dubuque.
Michael G. Wood, 70, of Arizona, and his wife, Jacqueline Wood, 79, seek a jury trial in Iowa District Court for Dubuque County. The lawsuit claims negligence against the driver who caused the crash, the city and truck manufacturer Peterbilt Motors Co.
The couple’s attorney, Steven Crowley, said Michael Wood suffered extreme injuries, including losing a leg to amputation, and has about $1 million in medical bills so far.
“I would expect a verdict in the range of $4 (million) to $6 million,” Crowley said.
A notice about the lawsuit was part of the agenda for Monday’s meeting of the Dubuque City Council. But attorney Les Reddick, representing the city, disputes the claim of negligence against it.
The suit relates to a crash on Sept. 12, 2016, at the intersection of Northwest Arterial and Plaza Drive. A Dubuque police report states David M. McGhee, 80, of Asbury, Iowa, was driving south on the Northwest Arterial when he started to turn left onto Plaza Drive on a flashing yellow arrow. His vehicle pulled in front of a northbound semi tractor-trailer driven by Michael Wood.
The report said Wood took evasive action and turned to the right, but the two vehicles still collided. Wood’s semi then hit a traffic pole.
Wood, McGhee and David McGhee’s wife Alice McGhee were taken to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City for treatment of severe injuries, according to the report. David McGhee was cited with failure to yield on a left turn.
Crowley said Jacqueline Wood was a passenger in the semi and was not as badly injured as her husband. However, he said they are exploring whether her dementia was accelerated by being in the crash.
In the aftermath of the crash, the McGhees’ son credited Wood’s evasive action with saving the lives of his parents.
The lawsuit states David McGhee was negligent in failing to yield at the intersection and causing the crash. A call to a listed phone number for McGhee was not returned Monday.
The suit states the City of Dubuque was responsible for the design, installation and maintenance of the traffic light that Wood struck.
“The traffic light pole was dangerously close to the traveled portion of the highway and was not designed as a ‘breakaway pole’ so that it would yield when struck by a vehicle,” the suit states.
However, Reddick said the city only is responsible for general maintenance of the light, which was installed by a civil engineer hired by a commercial developer. Northwest Arterial also is a state highway. He said it is “really reaching” to make the city a defendant and expects the city will be dismissed from the suit.
The suit also claims Peterbilt and its parent company PACCAR were negligent via a faulty design of the truck, which led to Michael Wood’s serious injuries. A Peterbilt representative declined to comment for this story.
The suit also includes a claim against GEICO Insurance, which Crowley said is Wood’s insurance company, to receive a payout due to McGhee being underinsured to cover all of Wood’s damages.