Court briefs

June 03, 2006|by PEPPER BALLARD

Woman files suit over 2003 crash in county

A Harpers Ferry, W.Va., woman filed suit Friday against the Washington County Commissioners and a county Sheriff's Department deputy seeking $150,000 from each over a 2003 car accident that involved a police cruiser, according to court documents.

Deborah Ann Florian claims in the lawsuit that she was rear-ended by Deputy 1st Class Gregory S. Woelfel on Oct. 26, 2003, while she waited at a traffic light on Md. 64 at Crystal Falls Drive.

Through her attorney, Arthur Schneider, Florian is seeking $150,000 from Woelfel claiming negligence and $150,000 from the commissioners, "the owner of the vehicle," a 1998 Ford Crown Victoria police cruiser.

Woelfel declined to comment about the suit. John M. Martirano, a county attorney, declined to comment about the suit.

According to the lawsuit, Florian was stopped in a 1996 Subaru Impreza at a traffic light on Md. 64, waiting to turn left onto Crystal Falls Drive, when the cruiser struck her from behind, pushing her head-on into another vehicle. She claims it was the deputy's duty "to operate his vehicle in a careful, safe and prudent manner; at a reasonable rate of speed; to keep a proper lookout and remain alert ..."


Florian claims through the suit that as a result of the accident, she "was caused to suffer severe permanent physical injuries and mental anguish." Her injuries are not listed in the lawsuit.

Mistrial declared in case related to '05 fire

A Washington County Circuit jury returned hung Thursday after deliberating for about four hours on charges a Hagerstown man set fire to a Howell Road house in July 2005.

Justo Juan Molina, 30, whose last address was 16629 Fairview Road, was ordered held at the Washington County Detention Center on a reduced $50,000 bond, according to a court clerk.

The mistrial came after the conclusion of the third day of the trial on Molina's 11 charges, including first-degree arson, first-degree malicious burning and first-degree burglary, according to court documents.

A family dog died in a July 31 fire, reported about 9:30 p.m., at 1527 Howell Road, charging documents state. Fire marshals allege Molina left the house after an argument at a party there and then returned to set fire to it while other partygoers went to a bar, charging documents state.

Circuit Judge M. Kenneth Long Jr. presided over the trial. Molina was represented by John P. Corderman and was prosecuted by Washington County Assistant State's Attorney John B. Dunlap, court records state.

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