The estate of Lukisha Thomas removed several allegations from the civil complaint filed against Thomas Woodruff Jr., who was driving the SUV that struck and killed the 29-year-old mother while she was walking on a sidewalk in downtown Aiken last year.
Thomas was walking on the sidewalk of York Street on March 30 with her boyfriend, Ray Charles Wooden Jr., and her 2-year-old son when a 2006 Jeep, driven by Woodruff, left the roadway and struck them. Thomas later died during surgery. Her son was treated and released from a hospital that day, while Wooden was hospitalized for several weeks.
Woodruff, an Aiken attorney, was charged with careless driving after an investigation by the Aiken Department of Public Safety.
Maria Saxon, Thomas’ sister, filed an amended summons and complaint in the Aiken County Clerk of Court’s office on May 30. The document is nearly identical to the summons and complaint filed in September; however, three of the factual allegations were removed in the amended complaint. The three removed were: “Mr. Woodruff has made no apology to Ms. Saxon or any other member of Ms. Thomas’ surviving family;” “A hearing related to this wreck was held on May 6, 2013;” and “Mr. Woodruff refused to appear at this hearing despite knowing that Ms. Thomas’s surviving family wished for him to do so.”
An attorney for Woodruff filed an answer to the complaint in December, as well as a motion to strike regarding the three allegations, calling the allegations “improper.”
The complaint lists negligence, wrongful death and survival as causes of action. Saxon is seeking compensation for medical expenses; pain and suffering for the period proceeding death; fright, grief, mental distress and mental anguish; funeral expenses and exemplary damages.
The defense alleges in the complaint that an award of punitive damages would constitute an “impermissible and excessive fine” under the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and that those damages would be a violation of the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the fifth and 14th amendments, respectively.
Woodruff’s answer admitted to a number of allegations in the complaint; however, it states that he disagreed with several of the allegations, including that he “killed Ms. Thomas in front of her young child.”
Teddy Kulmala is the crime reporter for the Aiken Standard.