Father sues over runaway semi. Swift lawsuit claims brake negligence

If Austin Forquer survives, he will have suffered grave and permanent damage to his brain and other parts of his body ...

complaint filed against truck owners

INJURED SON
Father sues over runaway semi. Swift lawsuit claims brake negligence
The father of a 13-month-old boy who was critically injured Tuesday when a runaway grain truck crashed into the mother's pickup truck filed a lawsuit against the owners of the semi Thursday in U.S. District Court in Billings.

Marvin ''Tal'' Talmadge Forquer III, father of Austin Forquer, charged that the brakes on the grain truck failed as it came down Airport Road because its Canadian owners negligently maintained, adjusted or applied the brakes.

Defendants in the case are Morrie L. Raes, doing business as Raes Harvesting of Fir Mountain, Saskatchewan, and Donald Clair Lukens, as agent for Raes. Luekens, 22, was the driver of the truck.

Forquer's attorney, Cliff Edwards of Billings, wrote in the complaint that the reason the lawsuit was brought just two days after the accident was so that documents filed here in U.S. District Court could be served while the defendants remain in Montana ''conducting the commerce of grain harvest for profit.'' Serving papers in Canada can be difficult, Edwards said.

Both Austin and his mother, 20-year-old Tara Benson, remained in St. Vincent Hospital Friday. Austin was listed in critical condition.

Benson is in serious but stable condition. Benson is also a plaintiff in the lawsuit. She and Forquer had planned to be married on Saturday.

The complaint did not specify the amount of damages sought, but the parents are asking for punitive as well as actual damages.

The accident occurred about 9 a.m. Tuesday while Benson was headed south on Main Street in her new 1995 Ford pickup. Austin was seated beside her in a child-restraint seat.

At the intersection of Airport Road and Main Street, the grain truck ''roared through the red light that was facing it and, without more than an awful instant of warning, struck plaintiff's pickup with such violence and with such force as to totally demolish not only plaintiff's vehicle, but also the semi tractor unit,'' the complaint said. ''For example, the force was so great that the transmission housing on the semi tractor unit had its metal housing fractured by the force of the collision.''

According to the complaint, Austin suffered a skull fracture that required several hours of brain surgery. It said the boy is now in a chemically induced coma to treat brain swelling.

"If he survives, he will have suffered grave and permanent damage to his brain and other parts of his body, and will require immense monetary sums of medical care and attention, and as an innocent victim will suffer the loss of enjoyment of life and occupation to which he is entitled,'' the complaint said.

It also said that Benson suffered internal injuries that required surgery and her condition is not entirely known. But the complaint said that she, too, will need lengthy medical treatment as well as rehabilitation.

"Her established course of life and enjoyment thereof and occupation have all been permanently and seriously damaged,'' it said.

Investigation into the accident continues. No citations have been issued so far.