New Trial Ordered in Virginia LODD Accident Suit

A new trial has been ordered in the lawsuit arising out of the fatal apparatus accident in Rocky Mount, Virginia. The accident on July 26, 2010 claimed the lives of Rocky Mount Fire Chief Posey Dillon, 59, and firefighter William Altice, 67. They were responding on mutual aid to a reported house fire.

Their engine, driven by Chief Dillon, collided with an SUV driven by Teri Anne Valentine and rolled over. Chief Dillion and FF Altice were ejected and died of their injuries.

The daughter of FF Altice, Christie Altice-Weaver, filed suit against Chief Dillon's estate and Valentine seeking damages for wrongful death. Valentine in turn cross-claimed against the Chief Dillon.

In a trial last September, a jury found Chief Dillon was not responsible for the accident, and ordered Valentine to pay Altice-Weaver $9,984.37, representing funeral and burial costs only.

Last Friday, Franklin County Circuit Judge William Alexander ordered two new trials be held. First, he acknowledged that he erred in excluding expert witness testimony related to emergency driving requiring a new trial for Altice-Weaver on the issue of Chief Dillion's negligence.

He also indicated that the damage award to Altice-Weaver from Valentine was inadequate in so far as it did not provide compensation for emotional upset and loss to Altice's family. Judge Alexander ordered a new trial separate from the one on Chief Dillon's liability, focused solely on the compensation Valentine must pay.

More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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