Child Death Suit Headed For Mediation

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By TOM WOERNER
Of The Record Staff

The parties named in a lawsuit filed by the parents of the child who died while attending the 2011 Erwin Christmas Parade will meet later this year in an effort to resolve the suit.

The family of Cullen Reece Parker filed suit against multiple entities following the tragic loss of their 3-year-old son after what started out as an evening of holiday fun.

Cullen died from injuries he suffered when he was hit by a car in downtown Erwin shortly following the town’s annual parade. The driver of the car did not see the young child.

The family was going to eat at Tubby’s Diner in Erwin’s downtown area following the parade when the accident happened.

The long list of plaintiffs in the suit includes the Erwin Area Chamber of Commerce, Erwin Parking Center Inc., James Daryl West, Tammy Renee West, the Erwin Fire Department and Rescue Squad Inc., Harnett County EMS, EMS Division Chief Ricky Denning, the Harnett County Enhanced 911 Center and L. Johnson, who was the emergency 911 operator on duty at the time the accident occurred.

Others named include former Erwin Police Chief Warren Morrisette, former Town Manager Bryan Thompson, local attorney Tim Morris, whose office is near the accident scene, and the American Mobile Home Supply company.

Mr. Morris and the town was named in the suit because it alleges they did not provide adequate lighting at the scene. The suit claims that one light on the corner of 12th Street was not lit at the time of the accident.

Mr. Morris said he did not want to comment on pending litigation.

The suit alleges that other town officials, and officials with the chamber of commerce and other agencies named, did not properly plan for the event. The filing says there was no action to prevent drivers from entering the parking lot where the accident occurred.

Harnett County Superior Court Judge Winston Gilchrist signed an order in July stating that the parties involved in the case should come up with a date in November when they can meet to mediate the matter. The court order calls for a mediated settlement conference in November. The precise date will be set by attorneys.

The ruling came after both sides in the case had difficulties with evidence discovery because of communication issues.

There are disputed issues involving both liability and who should pay for damages in the case.

Daily Record File Photo – This lawsuit, on file at the Harnett County Clerk of Court’s office, is ongoing but will be heard by mediators later this year.

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