Settlement agreement pays family of killed pedestrian $90,000


By Ed Runyan

runyan@vindy.com

WARREN

The family of Amy Huffman, who was hit by a truck as she walked along state Route 193 in Liberty Township on Jan. 28, 2015, has settled a wrongful-death suit for $90,000, of which five family members will split $65,000.

Huffman’s estate filed suit in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court in 2016 against the driver, Ryan M. Tolone, now 32, of Girard, who was a part-time Brookfield police officer at the time and a full-time corrections officer at the Trumbull County jail.

Tolone later resigned from the police department. He was fired from his job at the jail after jail officials learned Tolone was using the drug Suboxone without a prescription at the time of the 10:39 p.m. crash because he was addicted to oxycodone.

The lawsuit accused Tolone of negligently operating his vehicle. Tolone was never charged with a crime in the crash. The Girard Municipal Court prosecutor at the time, Atty. Michael Bloom, said he concluded that Suboxone doesn’t affect a person’s ability to drive.

“He admitted that he did not have a prescription for the Suboxone but got it from friends and neighbors and on the street,” an arbitrator’s decision said after Tolone appealed his termination from the jail.

Tolone’s use of Suboxone was uncovered through routine fluid testing of Tolone after the crash.

The March 29, 2018, settlement agreement filed in Trumbull County Probate Court by an attorney for Huffman’s estate said Huffman, 45, of Tibbetts-Wick Road in Liberty, was “lawfully walking southbound” when she was struck by Tolone’s vehicle. Tolone’s insurance carrier defended the lawsuit.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol said Huffman was believed to be walking in the roadway near Vintage Village mobile home park. She also had a blood-alcohol level of 0.093 and the active ingredient for marijuana in her system.

Huffman died as soon as she reached St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital, and there was “no conscious pain and suffering,” the filing says.

The Huffman family agreed the settlement is a “compromise” and “shall not be construed as an admission of liability” by Tolone and his insurance company, the agreement says.

The family also agrees that the settlement was reached “to avoid the cost, time and expense of future ligitation,” the agreement says.

A Nov. 2, 2016, filing by an attorney for Tolone and his insurance carrier said Tolone denied any negligence or wrongful conduct and that Huffman was “contributorily negligent.”

The settlement pays $13,000 each to each of Huffman’s four children and her mother.

Subtracted from the $90,000 was $642 for hospital and medical bills, $23,861 for legal services and $497 in legal expenses.

On April 3, Probate Judge James Fredericka ruled that the settlement agreement was not yet final because additional information needed to be provided, including more information about Huffman’s death, such as “cause, nature and extent of injuries.”

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