A three-judge panel of Maryland's Court of Special Appeals unanimously upheld last week a Montgomery County judge's decision to award approimately $600,000 to the family and employer of a truck driver killed in a June, 1974, traffic accident on Rte. 3 in Anne Arundel County.
The amount of damages granted last March to the wife and two young children of 25-year-old George O. Schruefer by Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge John J. Mitchell "ranks close to the top," of all civil damage judgements ever awarded in Montgomery County, Judge Mitchell said.
The decision by the state's second highest court upheld the major portions of Mitchell's decision: Awards of $100,000 each of Schruefer's two children, ages eight and ten; a $350,000 award to his wife Darlin Sue Schaefer; and an $18,000 award to the Shasta Beverage Co., Schruefer's employer. When about 11 months' worth of interest on the judgment is added, according to M. Michael Cramer, the family's attorney. the total amount due the family and the company is close to $600,000.
A separate award of $54,000 in workmen's compensation claims was not upholed by the Court of Special Appeals, Cramer added.
Schruefer, who lived in Bel Air, was killed instantly early in the morning of June 13, 1974, when the Shasta beverage truck he was driving crashed into the rear of a truck owned by the Great Coastal Express, Inc., of Richmond.
Shortly before the accident, the Great Coastal Express truck, driven by Gerald Wayne Smith, had pulled out of a filling station in Millersville onto Rte. 3.
Schruefer's attorneys said Smith's vehicle had pulled out so close in front of Schruefer's and was traveling so slowly at the time of the crash, that Schruefer would not avoid the accident. Judge Mitchell agreed.