Judge still unsatisfied with teen death settlement

By Terri Flagg - tflagg@civitasmedia.com

DOBSON — For the second time this week, a Superior Court judge requested more information before approving a settlement for the family of two young sisters killed in a 2014 wreck.

“I just need to be satisfied that no stone that should have been turned has been left unturned,” said Presiding Judge Lindsay Davis.

Taylor Thompson, 17, and Megan Davis, 12, were pronounced dead on the scene after the single-car accident a few days before Thanksgiving on U.S. 52 between King and Pinnacle.

Dakota Goss, then an 18-year-old North Surry student, had driven the half-sisters and his own 15-year-old brother, Brendan Goss, to see the Festival of Lights at Tanglewood Park, according to police statements.

On their way home, the vehicle veered off the road and collided with a guardrail end terminal. Davis and Thompson were pronounced dead at the scene.

Brendan Goss was airlifted to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in critical condition. He survived the accident but according to statements made in court,

The judge first considered the settlement, which divided the $60,000 liability insurance proceeds among three victims of the accident, on Monday.

Mary Ann Davis, the appointed administrator of her daughters estates, had agreed to the settlement.

But without proof that additional assets had been even researched by the insurance company’s attorney, Judge Davis declined to approve a settlement which would release the vehicle driver from any future liability.

“I need more information,” such as tax returns or affidavits, he said Tuesday. “Something so I can have a factual basis to determine if the settlement is fair and reasonable.”

He held the matter open to give Kara Bordman, attorney for Nationwide Affinity Insurance Company of America, time to assemble more documentation.

On Thursday, Bordman returned for the court’s approval.

“Mr. Goss is not a man of substantial assets,” the attorney stated, submitting information.

Brandon York, a Wilkes County attorney, spoke on behalf of Mary Ann Davis, who had appeared without counsel on Monday.

York informed the judge that his firm had been helping Davis in “any actions with regards to the guardrail installed by the state and the guardrail manufacturer,” he stated. “That’s where we got into this game.”

The guardrail end terminal model on the piece of rail involved in the wreck was a type called a Breakaway Cable Terminal (BCT), Steve Abbott, an NCDOT spokesperson, told The News in August 2015.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) identified BCTs as unsafe in the early 1990s, but didn’t recommend a wholesale replacement of the units and still hasn’t officially mandated one, although their position has evolved.

On Thursday, York reiterated that what was presented in the settlement was all that was available, but the judge questioned if additional insurance policies might apply, either through Goss or through underinsured motorist coverage held by Mary Ann Davis.

York indicated she did not.

“I certainly wish she did,” he said.

Judge Davis remained unconvinced.

“If I approve this order and it’s signed, that’s it,” he said. If an additional policy was uncovered after the settlement signed, “it’s just been thrown away.”

Judge Davis asked York to provide him with a declaration page from Mary Ann Davis’s auto policy.

“Just let me know,” the judge said, and the parties would not have to reappear in court if the declaration page confirmed no additional coverage.

“If you notify me there is more coverage, you may have to come back,” he said. “If not, I will be satisfied.”

By Terri Flagg


Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.

Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.

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