Drunken-driving fatality lawsuit won by estate of teen victim
BALLSTON SPA A man who is in prison for killing a 14-year-old girl while driving drunk last year has agreed to pay $50,000 to settle a lawsuit by her family.
The wrongful death settlement between Gavin Staulters and the family of Kari Liedel was recorded in the state Supreme Court in Saratoga County on April 8. Liedel was standing along the side of West Milton Road with a friend in July in West Milton when Staulters hit her.
The settlement states that Sarah Liedel, Kari’s mother and the estate administrator, will get a little over $36,000 of the total. Of the rest, $2,600 will cover funeral expenses and more than $11,000 will go to personal injury attorneys Rutberg Basso Personal Injury Law of Poughkeepsie, according to the settlement filed in court.
Progressive Insurance Co. is paying the settlement, according to the court papers.
Sarah Liedel filed the lawsuit in November on behalf of her daughter’s estate, alleging Staulters committed gross negligence and destroyed her daughter’s earning capacity.
“Having driven while intoxicated ... prior to the accident, and having caused the death of [Kari Liedel] as a result, defendant exhibited total disregard for human life,” the lawsuit stated.
Staulters, 22, of 1021 Rock City Road, Milton, pleaded guilty in December to felony second-degree vehicular manslaughter and was sentenced in January to two to six years in state prison.
He pleaded guilty to the most serious charge against him 15 minutes before a Saratoga County grand jury was scheduled to hear testimony on his case.
The day she was killed, Kari Liedel was standing with one girl and waiting for another friend on a route she often walked from her home on Atomic Project Road to the nearby Stewart’s store. Staulters’ 2003 Ford Escape struck her at 8:33 p.m., police said previously.
Staulters’ guilty plea spared the friend who was waiting with Liedel from having to testify before the grand jury about the tragedy, when she herself was inches from being hit by Staulters’ vehicle and then watched her friend die, Saratoga County District Attorney James A. Murphy III said then.
At his sentencing, Staulters apologized profusely to Liedel’s family.
Liedel was an aspiring singer and had posted several YouTube videos of her singing popular songs. She had finished ninth grade at Ballston Spa High School when she was killed. She loved horses and was usually tethered to her cellphone, friends said after her death.