Plaintiff and defense attorneys in the wrongful death suit filed by the estate of Lukisha Thomas recently filed motions requesting documents pertaining to the case.
Thomas died March 30, 2013, after being struck by a vehicle while walking on the sidewalk of York Street with her boyfriend, Ray Charles Wooden Jr., and their 2-year-old son. Her son was treated and released from the hospital that day, while Wooden was hospitalized for several weeks.
The driver, Aiken attorney Thomas Woodruff Jr., was charged with careless driving after an investigation by the Aiken Department of Public Safety.
Robin Braithwaite, an attorney for Woodruff, on Feb. 24 filed a motion for a court order pertaining to records of the Department of Social Services. The motion asked for department attorneys to provide copies of “any and all records in its possession pertaining to the Plaintiff's decedent, Lukisha Nichole Thomas, or any of her children.”
Mt. Pleasant attorney Ladson Howell Jr. filed a motion to compel on behalf of Maria Saxon, Thomas' sister and the personal representative of her estate. The motion, dated March 6, asks for an order compelling Woodruff “to produce responses to Plaintiff's First Set of Interrogatories and Plaintiff's First Set of Request for Production” that were sent to Braithwaite on Dec. 20, 2013.
“The undersigned counsel (Howell) has communicated with counsel for Defendant, and the undersigned counsel is informed and believes Defendant personally is disinclined to voluntarily provide Plaintiff with tax returns or other financial information,” the document stated.
Repeated messages left with Braithwaite and Howell seeking comment were not returned.
The complaint, filed by Howell in September, lists several “factual allegations,” among them that Woodruff killed Thomas in front of her child, that he has made no apology to Saxon or any other member of Thomas' family, and that he “refused” to appear at a hearing held in May “despite knowing that Ms. Thomas's surviving family wished for him to do so.”
The complaint lists negligence, wrongful death and survival as causes of action. Saxon is seeking compensation for medial expenses; pain and suffering for the period proceeding death; fright, grief, mental distress and mental anguish; funeral expenses; and exemplary damages.
Braithwaite filed an answer to the complaint in December in which he said the defense admits to a number of the allegations; however, it stated that Woodruff disagreed with several of the allegations contained in it, including that Woodruff “failed to pay attention while driving and looked away from the roadway and his course of travel,” that he “ran his vehicle up onto the sidewalk and struck” Thomas and Wooden, and that he “killed Ms. Thomas in front of her young child.”
In a separate document also filed in December, Braithwaite made a motion to strike three paragraphs in the complaint that allege Woodruff made no apology to Saxon or any member of Thomas' family, that a hearing related to the wreck was held May 6, and that Woodruff “refused” to appear at the hearing.
Braithwaite called the allegations “improper” and wrote that they are subject to the motion to strike.
Teddy Kulmala covers the crime and courts beat for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since August 2012. He is a native of Williston and majored in communication studies at Clemson University.