November 28, 2017 – Sussex County, Delaware — The family of a 59-year old man who was struck and killed by a dump truck filed a wrongful death lawsuit today, accusing the truck driver and his employer of negligence.
Attorneys Diane Marger Moore and Cara J. Luther from the law firm of Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman filed the lawsuit (S17C-11-025 RFS) in Sussex County Superior Court for the State of Delaware on behalf of plaintiff Cornelia Oney, administrator to the estate of her deceased brother, Steven S. Oney of Laurel, Delaware.
Paul J. Fisher, Jr. of Delmar, Delaware, Donald L. Marine and Donald L. Marine Farm, both of Laurel, Delaware, are the defendants named in the lawsuit.
Mr. Fisher, who was driving the dump truck that struck and killed Steven Oney while riding his bicycle on June 14, 2017, has since been charged with several criminal offenses in connection with the incident. At the time of the incident, he was driving on a suspended license and was not a licensed commercial driver. Fisher has since entered a guilty plea to the crime of operating a motor vehicle causing death. As part of his plea, Fisher admitted that his inattentiveness caused the death of Steven Oney.
Donald L. Marine owned the truck involved in the fatal accident. Mr. Marine’s business, Donald L. Marine Farm, is engaged in the raising of race horses, farming and construction business. Donald L. Marine Farm was Mr. Fisher’s employer.
There are several counts against the defendants:
- Count I: Negligence Against Paul J. Fisher, Jr.
- Count II: Negligence Against Donald L. Marine and Donald L. Marine Farm
- Count III: Survival Action Against All Defendants
- Count IV: Wrongful Death Against All Defendants
Truck Accident in Laurel, Delaware Killed 59-Year-Old Steven Oney
Steven S. Oney
On the morning of June 14, 2017, a clear day without clouds or wind, Steven Oney was operating his bicycle northbound on Whaley’s Road (CR62) in rural Laurel, Delaware. The section of Whaley’s Road where the incident occurred is completely straight. Both the east and west sides of the roadway are bordered by dense woods and a water-filled creek. The travel lanes are separated by a double yellow line. There are no shoulders present and the lane edges are not marked. No residences can be found within 500 feet of the crash scene.
At around 7:27 a.m., Steven Oney was operating his bicycle on the pavement near the east asphalt edge of the roadway. Fisher, who was operating Marine’s truck in the course and scope of his employment, failed to observe the bicyclist (Oney) in the roadway. Without warning, the truck struck the rear of Mr. Oney’s bicycle. The truck ran over the bicycle and Oney, who was dragged 76.9 feet from the initial point of impact.
Mr. Oney suffered the loss of one leg and other massive traumatic injuries. He was pronounced dead at the scene at approximately 7:48 a.m., nearly twenty minutes after the impact.
According to the complaint, there is no evidence that Fisher tried to stop his vehicle before striking Mr. Oney. The evidence shows that the tires of the defendants’ dump truck had driven off of the roadway and on the grassy edge of the roadway where Mr. Oney had apparently headed to try to avoid the rapidly approaching vehicle.
The wrongful death lawsuit alleges that the defendants knew there were no operable brakes on the dump truck. Fisher tried to swerve to avoid the bicyclist because he knew that the brakes were defective but, according to the complaint, could not avoid striking the Mr. Oney.
Despite having knowledge of the truck’s inoperable brakes, Marine allegedly directed Fisher to drive the dangerous vehicle upon the highway and to cross state lines to obtain and load it with sawdust or other heavy material. The defendants also knew that driving a loaded vehicle with inoperable or seriously impaired brakes was dangerous to the driving, bicycling and pedestrian public, states the lawsuit. Nevertheless, the defendants “willfully ignored the risk opting to operate [the subject truck] in that dangerous condition,” the complaint alleges.
The defendants’ dump truck should never have been on the road due to its inoperable brakes, unlicensed driver and several other “out of service” violations that contributed to the death of Mr. Oney, it is opined in the lawsuit. Some of the violations for which the truck was cited:
- Severely inoperative/defective brakes
- The driver was operating a property-carrying vehicle without possessing a valid medical certificate
- The driver was operating a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) without a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)
- Operation of a CMV with fictitious registration
- Operation of a CMV with no fuel tax sticker
- Improper use of farm tag
- Other violations as noted in the Delaware State Police Report
On Oct. 2, 2017, Fisher admitted through his attorney that he was at fault for the death of Steven Oney. His admission of guilt includes the following: “It does appear that from the point of impact my client is at fault. He didn’t give enough room for the young man on the bicycle.”
Negligence Allegations in the Delaware Truck Accident Lawsuit Include Driver and Owner
The Driver, Paul J. Fisher:
The plaintiff alleges that Mr. Oney’s injuries and death were directly and proximately caused by the negligence, gross negligence, and/or recklessness of Defendant Paul J. Fisher, Jr., in that he:
- Drove in an inattentive manner, causing the death of Steven S. Oney;
- Failed to maintain a proper lookout while operating the dump truck he was driving;
- Failed to give full time and attention to the operation of the truck he was driving;
- Operated the truck he was driving in a careless and imprudent manner, without due regard for traffic conditions then existing;
- Operated the truck he was driving at a speed greater than was reasonable and prudent; under the conditions and without having due regard for the actual and potential hazards then existing;
- Operated the truck he was driving in a wanton disregard for the safety of other persons or property;
- Operated the commercial vehicle across state lines and in the area of the collision without a proper driver’s license;
- Operating an unregistered vehicle upon the highway; and
- Operated an unsafe vehicle knowing that it did not have operable brakes.
The Owner, Donald L. Marine and Donald L. Marine Farm:
The plaintiff alleges that the aforesaid collision was proximately caused by the negligence and/or gross negligence of Donald L. Marine and Donald L. Marine Farms in that they:
- Hired and retained Fisher when they knew or should have known that he was unfit or incompetent to operate a commercial motor vehicle;
- Failed to adequately train, supervise, monitor and/or control Fisher with regard to the operation a commercial motor vehicle;
- Failed to have or follow proper policies and procedures for the employment, training, retention, supervision, monitor, and control of its drivers and/or assignment of drivers;
- Failed to properly maintain the truck driven by Fisher; and
- Failed to keep operable and working brakes on the vehicle.
Family Mourns Loss of Steven S. Oney
At the time of his death 59-year-old Steven S. Oney, known by his family as “Stevey” was employed by his longtime friend and former school classmate as a loyal, dedicated and trusted farm hand. He worked at several chicken farms in the area, owned by his employer. Steven is survived by four sisters and several nieces and nephews, each of whom loved him as their favorite brother and uncle. Both of his parents predeceased him. While Steven was not married and had no children, he cherished the love of siblings, cousins, friends and many in his close-knit community.
Steven provided special care and much needed attention to two of his older sisters who suffer from chronic health issues. He helped them with the tasks of daily living, advice, companionship, gardening and with other tasks. As a brother and as a friend, Steven was always there for them with whatever assistance they needed.
Victim’s Family and Attorney Statements Regarding Tragic Laurel Truck Crash