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Smailes lawsuit is filed

August 23, 1997

By CLYDE FORD

Staff Writer, Charles Town

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The mother of Amanda Smailes filed a lawsuit Friday in Berkeley County Circuit Court against the drunk driver who struck Smailes' car killing her, the state police trooper chasing him and the video crew in the police cruiser filming for a television show.

The complaint for wrongful death also seeks damages from the bar that served Sparkman alcoholic drinks.

Attorney Lawrence Schultz, who filed the suit for Cynthia Smailes, said there were several causes that led up to Amanda Smailes' death.

"We are approaching this under the dandelion concept. If you have a dandelion in your yard and you want to get rid of it, you have to get all the roots. If you do not get all the roots, it will come back," Schultz said.

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"We think there are several root causes in Amanda Smailes' death and we are going after all of them," Schultz said.

"No family should have to go through this again," Schultz said.

Robert Lee Sparkman Jr. was found guilty on June 19 for driving under the influence with reckless disregard for others. He was sentenced to one to 10 years in prison.

Amanda Smailes, 21, of Inwood, W.Va., was driving from her job at Wal-Mart in Martinsburg, W.Va., on U.S. 11 when her car was rammed from behind by Sparkman's car on Nov. 24, 1996.

Sparkman was being chased at speeds over 100 mph by West Virginia State Police Trooper Kevin Plumer.

Along with Sparkman and Plumer, the suit also named as defendants the West Virginia Department of Public Safety, Piggie's Place, Wayne Lepoff, Leap Off Productions Inc., New World Entertainment, Peter Schmidt and Jim Allen Porter.

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