NEW MEXICO (KRQE) –A New Mexico family is getting hundreds of thousands of dollars after suing the state over icy roads that played a part in a deadly crash. The state is settling that lawsuit, after facing claims that NMDOT was negligent by not maintaining the freeway. “They realize they can’t bring their loved one back…She’s come a long way, but she still struggles,” says Keith Franchini, attorney for the Law Office of Keith Franchini.
Brent James Horner’s family is still dealing with the loss of their grandson. Four years ago, the 22-year-old was driving to his house in Raton after leaving work in Las Vegas. Around eight on a Tuesday night, Horner lost control of his SUV along an icy stretch of I-25, roughly 30 miles north of Las Vegas.
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Court documents say Horner died after crashing into a guard rail and rolling down a 30-foot embankment. Horner’s family filed a lawsuit in 2021, claiming the freeway had not been cleared, deiced, or salted saying that’s the responsibility of NMDOT to maintain safe roads. “And in this particular case, it was pretty clear to us that this could’ve easily have been avoided has they just followed their own policies and procedures and been there in advance of the storm that was impeding,” said David Houliston, attorney for Law Offices of David M. Houliston.
Nearly four years after the crash, the state has settled the case agreeing to pay $250,000 to Horner’s family. They hope the lawsuit, in part, will motivate DOT to take preventative action in the future. “This is a small piece of making people or encouraging people to do their job better and make the roads more safe for all of the drivers of New Mexico,” Franchini said.
While NMDOT settled, the agency is not admitting any fault in the crash. The department told KRQE, it doesn’t comment on litigation but is “committed” to roadway safety.