·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary

Lawsuits & Litigation

University of Arkansas Agrees to Settle Lawsuit Over 2019 Death of Andrea Torres

— May 13, 2021

A lawsuit was recently settled over the 2019 death of a University of Arkansas student.

Earlier this week, a settlement was reached over a lawsuit filed shortly after the death of Andrea Torres, a student at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. Torres was an architecture student and was only 18-years-old when she was “hit by a car while walking in a campus crosswalk.” She died two days later. The driver who hit her was 17-years-old. They were cited by UA police for “using a cellphone and failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.”

Car accident at side of road with emergency workers and ambulance; image by Ragesoss, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0, no changes.
Car accident at side of road with emergency workers and ambulance; image by Ragesoss, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0, no changes.

When responding to the suit, which was filed by a special administrator for the Torres estate, the driver, Reagan Garner pushed back against the allegations and “denied using her cell phone while driving.”

The Torres family and estate are represented by Matthew Lindsay. When commenting on the details of the settlement, he said, “The family of Andrea felt that the final settlement terms were in the best interest of their family.” He added that the settlement was the result of both parties going through a successful mediation process. He said:

“While the Torres family will never fully recover from the loss of Andrea, they are hopeful her death has shed light on the dangers of distracted driving so other families will not have to undergo such a traumatic loss.”

In addition to naming Garner as a defendant, her mother, Dania Raynette Garner Austin, and father, James Hydrick Garner, are named in the suit. According to the court documents, “The parties have reached a compromise, resolution, and settlement of all issues between them…The defendants deny any fault with regard to this matter.”

What happened, though? Well, according to the suit, Garner “broke traffic laws related to cellphone use while driving, including Arkansas Code Annotated 27-51-1504, which prohibits drivers from reading or writing texts or social media posts.”

The accident happened on February 2, 2019, around 2:52 p.m. At the time, Torres was walking “west from the Garland Avenue Center to cross North Garland Avenue.According to court records, when Garner was asked whether she looked down at her phone while driving, she said, “Not with intentions to get on it. It was just down in my cup holder and lit up with a notification.” When asked against whether or not she looked at her phone before the accidents, Garner said:

“But not with intent to be playing on my phone, to – it was literally a split second. If I wanted to change the temperature on my dials, it would have been the exact same thing.”


Settlement in driver negligence suit reached; car fatally hit UA student at crosswalk

Lawsuit settled in traffic fatality at UA crosswalk

Join the conversation!