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Drunk Driver in Fatal Colorado Car Accident Now Faces Wrongful Death Civil Suit

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Earlier this month, Sandra Jacobson received the maximum sentence of 36 years for the January 2009 drunk-driving crash that killed two Connecticut librarians on their way to Denver International Airport. Jeremy P. Meyer, staff writer for The Denver Post, summarizes the case’s details:

Jacobson, of Centennial, was convicted in April on nine counts related to the Jan. 28, 2009, crash of a taxi van that killed Kate McClelland, 71, and Kathy Krasniewicz, 54, and injured cabdriver Nejmudean Abdusalam. McClelland and Krasniewicz were children’s librarians who had come to Denver for a conference.

Prosecutors said Jacobson was drunk at 10 a.m. as she sped along at more than 80 mph on Peña Boulevard. She lost control of her pickup, swerved across two lanes and clipped the taxi van, sending it crashing into the median.

Jacobson continued driving while McClelland and Krasniewicz died.

But this is not the end of the story. Now that the criminal case has concluded and the maximum sentence handed down, the civil litigation can begin. The children of the deceased librarians are pursuing further damages against the cab company and Ms. Jacobson. Colin Gustafson, staff writer at, reports:

Jacobson and Freedom Cabs Inc. — the taxi company the librarians were using — are listed as the defendants in the civil suit. McClelland’s children, Lauren Mendoza McClelland, 51, and Graham McClelland, are listed as co-plaintiffs. Jacobson’s father may also be liable as co-owner of the vehicle that Jacobson was driving, for entrusting it to his daughter despite her extensive record of driving violations, [the plaintiffs’ lawyer David] Stevens said.

The wrongful death suit faces a state cap at $436,000 — the maximum amount plaintiffs can seek for noneconomic damages, such as emotional distress. While forbidden by Colorado law from disclosing the amount they’re seeking in the lawsuit, Gustafson reports that the plaintiffs’ Colorado lawyer David Stevens stated: “Our claim is that the noneconomic portion is worth at least the statutory minimum.”

Image by walknboston on Flickr, used under its Creative Commons license


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