The parents of two children who died in 2020 after a vehicle swerved off the road and into a mini-golf facility in Panama City Beach, Florida, have launched a lawsuit since the driver was never held accountable for their children’s deaths. Additionally, the complaint was submitted on February 7 in Bay County, Florida by Morgan & Morgan, the legal team defending Lauren and Matt Kirchgessner.
Furthermore, the defense counsel contends that the family physician for Scott Donaldson, the driver, and his bar, which he owns, were both negligent. The lawsuit claims that Donaldson’s seizures, which are thought to be brought on by his purported issues with alcoholism and withdrawal, could have been prevented, preventing the deadly crash from happening in the first place.
Details about the case
According to a press release from Morgan & Morgan lawyers Jack T. Cook and Clay Townsend, Addie Kirchgessner, 6, and Baylor Kirchgessner, 4, were playing mini-golf with their parents on December 4, 2020, at Coconut Creek Family Fun Park in Panama City Beach, Florida, while on vacation from their home in Louisville, Ky.
Addie and Baylor were struck and killed while their parents watched when Donaldson’s Chevy Silverado left the road and slammed through a fence and into the park. After a protracted inquiry, State Attorney Larry Basford said in January 2022 that he would not file charges against Donaldson, finding that although the fatal collision was triggered by an epileptic seizure while Donaldson was driving, there was no evidence of criminal intent.
Additionally, Donaldson allegedly had five accidents in the past that were brought on by alcohol-related seizures. But at a news conference on February 8, Matt and Lauren Kirchgessner claimed that nothing had been done to stop another catastrophic collision from occurring. Therefore, the Kirchgessner family is currently suing for at least $50,000 in losses related to the incident.
“We shouldn’t be here. We should be home with our children having dinner, doing homework, and reading bedtime stories,” Lauren read a prepared statement to the press.
The statement continued, “We believe that multiple people could have prevented this tragedy, and we never want this to happen to another family. The doctor needs to be held accountable for the decisions he made that we believe led to our children’s tragic deaths, and we call on everyone to take responsibility for keeping dangerous drivers off the road.”
Scott Donaldson allegedly received several prescriptions for drugs for a seizure issue that multiple doctors allegedly attributed to acute alcoholism and alcohol withdrawal, according to medical papers referenced in the lawsuit.
According to the complaint, Tim M. Smith twice authorized Donaldson’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) paperwork in 2017 and 2019, respectively, allowing Donaldson to maintain his driver’s license despite being admitted to the hospital at least 12 times for seizures and allegedly being involved in prior accidents.
In addition, despite the advice of multiple other medical professionals who had treated Donaldson, the complaint claims that Dr. Smith downplayed Donaldson’s alleged drunkenness and concealed how it was hurting his health and the effectiveness of his anti-seizure drugs. The attorneys stated during the news conference that Dr. Smith reportedly attributed Donaldson’s health to an “electrolyte imbalance.”
In the release, lawyers Cook and Townsend made a statement, “Dr. Smith was allegedly presented with two separate chances to protect Florida’s residents and visitors by taking Mr. Donaldson off the roads. If he had done his duty to protect his patient and the public, Addie and Baylor might still be with us today.”
Moreover, the lawsuit also makes reference to Donaldson-owned Billy’s Oyster Bar in Panama City Beach. Donaldson allegedly frequented the pub in the years prior to the fatal collision, and while there, he was given “copious amounts of alcohol despite the staff’s knowledge that he had significant struggles with alcohol that resulted in multiple car crashes,” according to the attorneys.
Lastly, it is uncertain if Smith, Billy’s Oyster Bar, or Donaldson had retained legal counsel who could refute the accusations.