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Should a lawsuit be filed against the spouse by the victims families?

posted 9/2/2009 9:11:31 AM |
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tagged: straddle, alcohol, news, sad

The body of a woman who killed herself and seven other people by driving a minivan the wrong way on a parkway and crashing into an SUV will be exhumed for testing in an attempt to counter findings that she was drunk, a family lawyer said Tuesday.

Attorney Dominic Barbara said Tuesday night on CNN's "Larry King Live" that Diane Schuler could have suffered a minor stroke brought on by an abscess in her mouth.

"That's what we want to look at," Barbara said.

The July 26 crash on the Taconic State Parkway, just north of New York City, killed Schuler, her daughter and three young nieces in the minivan and three men in the SUV. Toxicology tests found the 36-year-old woman had been drinking heavily and smoking marijuana.

But her husband, Daniel Schuler, denied that possibility and hired Barbara and a private investigator. He said Tuesday he wants relatives of the other victims to know that "A drunk driver did not do this to your family."

"I think she had a stroke," he said. "Something to do with her teeth."

Barbara said the just-released autopsy report found no evidence of chronic alcoholism in Diane Schuler's liver, pancreas, stomach or esophagus.

He had previously suggested that diabetes or a lump on her leg could have caused her crash, and he said Tuesday it was possible that when her body was charred in the crash the sugar in her blood turned to alcohol.

During the show, statements were read from representatives of the family of Daniel Longo, one of the men killed in the SUV. One said Daniel Schuler's refusal to accept that his wife was drunk is "appalling, offensive and hurtful."

Schuler, of West Babylon, said his 5-year-old son, Bryan, the only survivor from the minivan, had broken arms and a broken leg and would make a full recovery. The boy is in a children's hospital for rehabilitation.

From the AP


My question to all of you is, should the spouse of this woman who killed herself and others while driving be responsible for his wife's actions since alcohol was found in her, even though he denies this? Or should he escape lawsuit(s) because he wasn't in the car with her and wasn't responsible, even though he was on the cell phone with her and knew something was wrong with her as she continued driving? Should he press on with digging her body up to clear her name (and to avoided being sued by the victims families even though a toxicology test proved that she was drunk with alcohol and with some marijuana in her), or should he let her rest in peace and not disturb her grave? I believe they plan on collecting some hair samples from her this time around.

This has been all over the news the past two months, and many of you are most likely to have heard about this over this time.

In my opinion, I believe the guy is trying to cover up his wife's alcohol and marijuana use while she was driving that day because of the victims families leveling a lawsuit against him. I know he lost all but one of his children in this, but I have yet to see a grieving father in him with all of this, and more of trying to protect himself with lawsuits and his wife's image.

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Sep 2 @ 9:39AM  
This is a diffcult thing. I mean the man lost his wife and all but one child. Isn't he suffering also? Just because we don't see it doesn't mean he isn't suffering and grieving. Doesn't mean he didn't know either. Most people with an alcohol problem show signs in thier liver at least, so if that hasn't been found then how can we say she did have a problem? I don't think they should sue him. He might have known but most alcoholics hide thier drinking from family and close friends. If he knew , then yes he is somewhat at fault for allowing her to drive ANY child or herself in a vehicle. If he didn't know then he isn't at fault. Who knows how much she hid? Maybe , just maybe this was the one time she drank to much and this happened. Maybe she didn't drink heavy and only sometimes. We don't know the whole story and from what I have read nobody that knew her saw her drunk or seen her drink alot. That says something. She was either hiding it very well, not an alcoholic or she only drank sometimes and this time drank to much to drive with those kids.( Which is wrong and she should have known better then to drive the way she was) Maybe she just started becoming an alcoholic and didn't have signs yet? JMO and I know it isn't the best but mine. Sorry if I offend or anything.

Sep 2 @ 9:40AM  
If he doesn't believe it he should do what it takes to clear hers and his name.
Based on the little info that is here I would say no he should not be able to be sued if he wasn't with her, unless he was with her when she left and she was drunk and high then. The insurance company should pay out the maximum to the families and that should be it.

Sep 2 @ 9:49AM  
I don't think they should sue him. He might have known but most alcoholics hide thier drinking from family and close friends. If he knew , then yes he is somewhat at fault for allowing her to drive ANY child or herself in a vehicle. If he didn't know then he isn't at fault.
I agree, if he didn't know, then I don't feel like he should be sued. But having watched part of that interview with his eyes and the way his movements were, I believed him to be lying and trying to cover his ass instead. I don't know this for sure, but that's how I saw it.

Sep 2 @ 11:34AM  
Should a lawsuit be filed? That's not the question, whether or not a suit should be filed. People file lawsuits every day of the week, many of which never make it to the courtroom.

But should he be held legally responsible for his wife's actions? I guess that depends. I doubt toxicology reports were "faked," and I doubt numerous witnesses who saw her driving erratically for 60 miles were lying. And I also doubt he didn't know, when she got into the car, that she was drunk out of her gourd. he was suposed to be right ahead of, or behind, her, wasn't he? Wonder if they tested him for alcohol? Seems kinda strange to me that only she would have been drinking to the point of that kind of erratic behavior, and not him. Or, if he wasn't, and he knew she was, why didn't he insist upon driving and then they could have come and picked up the other vehicle later?

Something's not right here, and I'm not so sure he didn't have a role in what happened, whether deliberately or not. I wonder if toxicology reports checked for Succinylcholine (sp?) or other hard-to-detect drugs or poisons.

Sep 2 @ 11:53AM  
I guess that i would need to know more about what was found, I actually never heard of this before...........but as it stands right now...........No i don't think the husband should be sued.........she obviously was an adult.....and made the decision to drive.........if she was drunk.................and if not..........well people get sick and this can happen...............either way i don't think he should be sued.........I think if he knew his wife was totally intoxicated and allowed the children to ride with her........was a very poor decision on his part...........but he is the one who has to live with that..........JMO

Sep 2 @ 12:34PM  
I'm not sure, but I think he could be legally responsible for the accident, if he let her drive knowing she was drunk. (And you mean to tell me you don't at least hold him ethically and morally responsible, even if not legally so?) His own CHILDREN were in the car with her, for god's sake! It's hard for me to fathom any parent who would ever let anyone drive drunk with their kids (and nieces/nephews) in the car with them. Is it possible she was completely sober when she left and just decided to start guzzling on vodka straight out of the bottle, and toking on a doobie while driving home from camping...with all those kids in the car? That doesn't make any sense at all. Even if he's lying and she's a raging alcoholic pothead,'d think she could wait until she got home to get drunk or stoned.

Something is definitely not right.

Why did she call her ...whoever it tell him she wasn't feeling well? If she was really drunk, she'd KNOW why. And usually someone who's drunk doesn't make a U'ey in the middle of a divided interstate and start going the opposite direction; usually, if that happens, it's because they entered on the offramp to begin with.

I have been plenty drunk in my day before I quit drinking and always had the presence of mind to take a cab or get a ride. Not once did I ever not realize I was entirely too drunk to drive.

If she was feeling sick from drinking alone, surely she'd know that, and simply just pull over.

Sounds like she was confused, disoriented, dizzy...but not so much so that she didn't have the presence of mind to call someone to tell them that. She called, obviously, because she was scared. Perhaps in her confusion and disorientation, she turned around thinking she could get off an exit she just passed that was on the other side, and maybe find a hospital.

On the other hand, maybe she had gotten into a fight with him, and maybe already had the vodka in the car..perhaps a bottle of pills or some kind of poison they hadn't yet checked for? Maybe he told her he wanted a divorce and she decided to commit suicide and hurt him even more so by taking his kids? I don't really believe that, but anything's possible.

Something's just really suspicious about the whole thing.

Sep 2 @ 12:45PM  
(And you mean to tell me you don't at least hold him ethically and morally responsible, even if not legally so?)
That wasn't what straddle asked.

Sep 2 @ 12:50PM  

I didn't make that comment in response to what Straddle had asked.

Sep 2 @ 1:35PM  
Beyond letting a jury decide, I don't have enough first hand knowledge of this specific case to choose to express an opinion, sorry.

Sep 2 @ 8:32PM  
By all means, sue the husband.

And the manufacturer of the auto she was driving.

And the salesman who sold it to her.

And the government for providing the highway.

While we're at it, check her credit receipts for where she bought her last tank of gas. May well sue them too.

Ooh... ooh....... let us not forget, sue the INSURANCE COMPANY.
Seriously now, this country has WAY too many lawyers and WAY WAY too many lawsuits. Having said that, as far as this case goes......since the lady herself is dead and can't be held responsibility any more, I think the insurance company is the ONLY one who should be sued. After all, for a fee (the premium) they have accepted responsibility for her actions by providing liability insurance.

Sep 3 @ 3:49AM  
This is a very difficult situation, as I have empathy for both sides. I personally know people who have experienced loss at the hands of a drunk driver...and I also have relatives and friends who have struggled with alcoholism and/or drug addiction.

I think the families should be allowed to sue the estate of Diane Schuler if:
1. Diane Schuler is found at fault in regards to being under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
2. If Diane Schuler was found to be impaired at the time of the accident, I do not think the families should be allowed to sue for any of the husband's funds...only D. Schuler's funds. e.g.: If there was life or auto insurance money...perhaps a portion of this money could be set aside for the victims. However, I feel the husband should retain a portion of any insurance money. NOTE: This is probably a moot issue as the insurance companies would probably deny the claims outright because of the alcohol and/or drug abuse.

I don't feel the families should sue the spouse directly. He is not responsible for, nor should he be held accountable for the actions of his wife. JMHO

Good blog...really made me think.

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Should a lawsuit be filed against the spouse by the victims families?