A truck driver previously found guilty for the death of six people says that the victims should cover some of the court costs after violating court rules by facilitating a press release.
The crash happened in Hamilton County, Tennessee on I-75 in 2015, and truck driver Benjamin Brewer was convicted in 2018. Now, Brewer and his employer, Cool Runnings Express, want the victims to pay back $10,446.64 in court costs stemming from a civil trial alleging that Brewer’s company did not properly investigate his driving history prior to the crash.
According to ABC 9 News, the plaintiffs’ attorneys hired a Public Relations firm, which published a press release regarding the court case – a violation of court rules. After the statement was released and the defendants accused the plaintiffs of wrongdoing, the plaintiffs’ attorney, Danny Ellis, denied having ever hired a Public Relations firm. When asked the first three times, Ellis initially told the judge that he had issued a prepared statement when contacted by the media and had not worked with a firm to prepare a press release, but later admitted that he had facilitated the publishing of a press release after all.
“I’m a little flabbergasted, frankly, by this [press release],” said Brewer’s attorney, Rebecca Blair.
According to court documents, one of the exchanges regarding the publishing of the release went as follows:
MR. ELLIS: So I knew that this could potentially be a media storm. So I reached out to somebody so I would not have to deal with them, with the press, and said, “I need you to handle these people. Here you go.”
MR. GRIFFIN: And who is that?
MR. ELLIS: That’s — that’s the Holly Mar- — that’s the Holly — Ms. Holly Gribbs, or — I think that’s her name.
MR. GRIFFIN: So you did — you did hire Holly House Marketing.
MR. ELLIS: To handle the — to handle the press. did not want to handle the press.
I said, “Hey, if the press contacts you, you handle it.”
MR. GRIFFIN: So you contact Holly House Marketing to handle the press, and then when the press contacts you, you issued a statement?
MR. ELLIS: I had a prepared statement, based on my conversation with her, saying, ‘This is what I think we can do. If the press contacts you, this is — this is our — you know, this is our statement.’”
Brewer was convicted of six counts of vehicular homicide by intoxication in the deaths of six people back in 2018, and was sentenced to 55 years in prison. He was on meth at the time of the crash.
Because of the confusion and disagreement surrounding the press release, the judge has delayed the civil trial indefinitely. Jury selection was supposed to begin June 1st.