A family of an 18-year-old woman who died earlier this year on May 17 recently filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Superior Asphalt Inc., IMS Engineers, the city of Jackson, and others. According to the suit, the woman who lost her life was Frances Fortner. The day of the fatal incident, Fortner, who was a senior at Jackson Academy, was driving to graduation practice when her “car hit an unsecured manhole cover and flipped,” according to witnesses.
A family of an 18-year-old woman who died earlier this year in a fatal accident on May 17 recently filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Superior Asphalt Inc., IMS Engineers, the city of Jackson, and others. According to the suit, the woman who lost her life was Frances Fortner. The day of the fatal incident, Fortner, who was a senior at Jackson Academy, was driving to graduation practice when her “car hit an unsecured manhole cover and flipped,” according to witnesses.
Soon after the accident, it was discovered that another motorist had called and complained to the police about the road conditions earlier that day, but nothing had been done to address the motorist’s concerns.
The suit itself was filed on Friday in Hinds County Circuit Court by Fortner’s parents, Thomas and Laurilyn. In their lawsuit, they state that their daughter was “driving a 1992 Mazda Miata north on Ridgewood Road when her vehicle struck a manhole in the road that had an unsecured, misplaced, and/or defective cover and or riser, some of which had been improperly constructed, designed or manufactured.” The suit goes on to blame the defendants, which include the “city of Jackson, Superior Asphalt Inc., IMS Engineers Inc., Integrated Management Services Inc., their agents, their employees and/or contractors under their control” for failing to “provide proper warnings of the danger present at said manhole.”
In addition to the above-mentioned defendants, the lawsuit also includes five unnamed defendants from Sigma Corp. Sigma Corp. is the company that manufactured the manhole and manhole parts. Additionally, the Fortner’s allege the city of Jackson and other defendants were negligent in the following ways, according to the suit:
- Constructing the manhole and section of the roadway in a manner to create an unsafe, improper and unreasonably dangerous condition.
- Failure to properly inspect the roadway and remedy unsafe, improper and unreasonably dangerous conditions.
- Failure to warn of the dangerous conditions.
- Improper installation of manhole covers and/or installation of improper manhole covers.
- Failure to take reasonable and necessary measures to prevent the accident.
As a result, the couple is seeking punitive and compensatory damages, as well as “earnings their daughter would have possibly earned.”
In response to the lawsuit, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said his office was taking “responsibility for the city not taking precautions — such as putting up safety barriers, and the city went on the offensive after the wreck, putting up traffic cones and barricades in front of or on manholes and in front of or in large potholes throughout Jackson.”
Shortly after the fatal accident, Lumumba said:
“The city of Jackson failed to appropriately secure the site at the time we learned the manhole was not secured. We owe a responsibility to the Fortner family and we owe that acknowledgment to the citizens of Jackson.”