A man whose wife was killed in a 1980 collision with a D.C. garbage hauling truck and who is suing the city for $6 million, contends in court documents that city officials improperly allowed the truck to be driven by a man whose license was suspended at the time and who had a record of more than a dozen traffic accidents.

Douglas Bernon, 34, of Arlington, filed papers yesterday in D.C. Superior Court, including Department of Motor Vehicle records, describing 15 previous accidents involving the truck driver, 42-year-old James C. Shuler of Bradbury Heights, Md.

Shuler was driving a 20-ton sanitation department tractor-trailer on I-395 when it collided with a van in which Bernon's 30-year-old wife Abby was a passenger. Bernon contends in his court papers that Shuler's driver's license was suspended at the time of the accident and had been suspended three other times over a 12-year period. The papers filed yesterday were part of a suit Bernon brought last year.

As a sanitation truck driver, Shuler had been cited for numerous traffic violations prior to the accident, according to official records filed by Bernon's lawyers yesterday. On at least two occasions supervisors had recommended that he be transferred to a nondriving job, and he was not reassigned until after the fatal accident on Sept. 4, 1980, according to personnel records that Bernon's lawyers filed yesterday.

After the fatal accident, Shuler was cited for changing lanes "without caution" and charged with negligent homicide. He was acquitted after a jury trial in Superior Court.

In the civil case, Richard F. Moreland, head of the Solid Waste Management Administration, acknowledged in a deposition that the system broke down with regard to Shuler's being allowed to keep driving, according to papers filed yesterday by Bernon's lawyers, Jacob Stein and Robert Muse.

When asked about his department's handling of drivers generally, William B. Johnson, director of the Department of Environmental Services and Moreland's supervisor, said in an interview yesterday that he sees no problem. "We have a record of setting down drivers who do not do their jobs . . . . Obviously we treat drivers differently depending on whether it's a fender-bender or if there's an injury involved or if equipment is damaged . . . . I'm happy with what we're doing," he said.

In court documents, the city's corporation counsel has denied Shuler's supervisors were negligent and that the city is liable for Abby Bernon's death. The city attorney handling the case, Roberta Gross, declined to comment on it yesterday.

Shuler could not be reached for comment last night. A woman who said she was his wife told a reporter that she was "quite sure he would have no comment."

Abby Bernon, a graphic artist for the Smithsonian Institution, was killed in a collision on I-395 near the Capitol Hill tunnel. According to a police accident report filed previously in court, Shuler said he was trying to avoid hitting another car when he swerved to the left, striking the van. The van struck a cement pillar, throwing Abby Bernon from the vehicle. Shuler's truck overturned.

In papers previously filed in court, Douglas Bernon contends that city officials "not only created, but consciously maintained, a situation" that led to his wife's death. "It is difficult to imagine a more dangerous situation than was allowed to exist by Mr. Shuler's supervisors," Bernon said.

Today, Shuler is a department crane operator.

According to court papers, Shuler joined the city sanitation department in 1962 and became a sanitation truck driver in 1972. Within six months, Shuler was involved in three accidents, including one in which a car was destroyed, according to personnel files that Bernon's lawyers filed as part of their case. His supervisors requested that he be suspended and given a nondriving Suit Claims City Liable for Crash Fatal to Woman By Al Kamen and Ed Bruske Washington Post Staff Writers

A man whose wife was killed in a 1980 collision with a D.C. garbage hauling truck and who is suing the city for $6 million, contends in court documents that city officials improperly allowed the truck to be driven by a man whose license was suspended at the time and who had a record of more than a dozen traffic accidents.

Douglas Bernon, 34, of Arlington, filed papers yesterday in D.C. Superior Court, including Department of Motor Vehicle records, describing 15 previous accidents involving the truck driver, 42-year-old James C. Shuler of Bradbury Heights, Md.

Shuler was driving a 20-ton sanitation department tractor-trailer on I-395 when it collided with a van in which Bernon's 30-year-old wife Abby was a passenger. Bernon contends in his court papers that Shuler's driver's license was suspended at the time of the accident and had been suspended three other times over a 12-year period. The papers filed yesterday were part of a suit Bernon brought last year.

As a sanitation truck driver, Shuler had been cited for numerous traffic violations prior to the accident, according to official records filed by Bernon's lawyers yesterday. On at least two occasions supervisors had recommended that he be transferred to a nondriving job, and he was not reassigned until after the fatal accident on Sept. 4, 1980, according to personnel records that Bernon's lawyers filed yesterday.

After the fatal accident, Shuler was cited for changing lanes "without caution" and charged with negligent homicide. He was acquitted after a jury trial in Superior Court.

In the civil case, Richard F. Moreland, head of the Solid Waste Management Administration, acknowledged in a deposition that the system broke down with regard to Shuler's being allowed to keep driving, according to papers filed yesterday by Bernon's lawyers, Jacob Stein and Robert Muse.

When asked about his department's handling of drivers generally, William B. Johnson, director of the Department of Environmental Services and Moreland's supervisor, said in an interview yesterday that he sees no problem. "We have a record of setting down drivers who do not do their jobs . . . . Obviously we treat drivers differently depending on whether it's a fender-bender or if there's an injury involved or if equipment is damaged . . . . I'm happy with what we're doing," he said.

In court documents, the city's corporation counsel has denied Shuler's supervisors were negligent and that the city is liable for Abby Bernon's death. The city attorney handling the case, Roberta Gross, declined to comment on it yesterday.

Shuler could not be reached for comment last night. A woman who said she was his wife told a reporter that she was "quite sure he would have no comment."

Abby Bernon, a graphic artist for the Smithsonian Institution, was killed in a collision on I-395 near the Capitol Hill tunnel. According to a police accident report filed previously in court, Shuler said he was trying to avoid hitting another car when he swerved to the left, striking the van. The van struck a cement pillar, throwing Abby Bernon from the vehicle. Shuler's truck overturned.

In papers previously filed in court, Douglas Bernon contends that city officials "not only created, but consciously maintained, a situation" that led to his wife's death. "It is difficult to imagine a more dangerous situation than was allowed to exist by Mr. Shuler's supervisors," Bernon said.

Today, Shuler is a department crane operator.

According to court papers, Shuler joined the city sanitation department in 1962 and became a sanitation truck driver in 1972. Within six months, Shuler was involved in three accidents, including one in which a car was destroyed, according to personnel files that Bernon's lawyers filed as part of their case. His supervisors requested that he be suspended and given a nondriving assignment "so he would no longer be able to drive in such a fashion," according to one personnel memorandum in the court file. Records in that file do not say why those requests were not granted. In May 1973, Shuler was suspended from work for five days because of the 1972 accidents, according to the file.

According to the personnel file that is part of the record:

* Shuler was involved in additional accidents. In 1975, city officials summarized his driving history and estimated he had caused more than $22,000 in damage to city and private vehicles, among them one government vehicle that was destroyed when Shuler struck a guard rail on I-295.

* In 1975, another supervisor temporarily suspended Shuler from driving and recommended he be reassigned to a post at an incinerator plant. Shuler was brought before the department's Accident Review Board. The board allowed Shuler to return to his driver's job with a warning that he would be removed if he had any more accidents within six months.

* Nine months later, according to the same records, Shuler was ticketed after he struck the rear of a car entering a service station on Riggs Road NE. His supervisor at the time, Robert A. Hallbrook, recommended that he be reassigned "for the safety of himself and others."

* Charles D. Talley, head of the Solid Waste Management Administration, approved an official reprimand, but Shuler was allowed to continue driving sanitation trucks. In August 1979, while carrying a full load of refuse to the city's landfill near Springfield, Shuler struck a car parked in the emergency lane on I-395.

According to DMV records filed in court yesterday, Shuler's license was suspended in May 1980. Bernon's lawyers contend in their court papers that it was not reinstated at the time of the accident. assignment "so he would no longer be able to drive in such a fashion," according to one personnel memorandum in the court file. Records in that file do not say why those requests were not granted. In May 1973, Shuler was suspended from work for five days because of the 1972 accidents, according to the file.

According to the personnel file that is part of the record:

Shuler was involved in additional accidents. In 1975, city officials summarized his driving history and estimated he had caused more than $22,000 in damage to city and private vehicles, among them one government vehicle that was destroyed when Shuler struck a guard rail on I-295.

In 1975, another supervisor temporarily suspended Shuler from driving and recommended he be reassigned to a post at an incinerator plant. Shuler was brought before the department's Accident Review Board. The board allowed Shuler to return to his driver's job with a warning that he would be removed if he had any more accidents within six months.

Nine months later, according to the same records, Shuler was ticketed after he struck the rear of a car entering a service station on Riggs Road NE. His supervisor at the time, Robert A. Hallbrook, recommended that he be reassigned "for the safety of himself and others."

Charles D. Talley, head of the Solid Waste Management Administration, approved an official reprimand, but Shuler was allowed to continue driving sanitation trucks. In August 1979, while carrying a full load of refuse to the city's landfill near Springfield, Shuler struck a car parked in the emergency lane on I-395.

According to DMV records filed in court yesterday, Shuler's license was suspended in May 1980. Bernon's lawyers contend in their court papers that it was not reinstated at the time of the accident.