Case Resolved by:  Verdict___  Settlement_X_  Mediation___  Arbitration___

Full Case Name:

Wynn Christensen, husband of Helen Christensen, Deceased, Sheila Hartley, Jennifer Hill, Eileen Banner and Daniel Banner, surviving children of Helen Christensen, Deceased, Plaintiffs, vs. William  S. Lemaster  and Sanleco Inc, Defendants.


U.S. District Court for the State of Idaho

Case Number:



B. Lynn Winmill, U.S. District Court Judge

Significant Legal Issues or Holdings:

Plfs’. Motion to Amend for Punitive Damages against the driver as well as the trucking company was granted by Federal Judge B. Lynn Winmill. 

Defs. argued comparative negligence, claiming there was no way for deceased not to have seen the stopped and lighted trailer unless she was distracted by her cell phone use. 

Plaintiff Characteristics:  age, work history, earnings, family, etc.

Helen Christensen was a 58-year-old married school teacher.   She was the mother of five adult children. 

Liability Facts:

Mrs. Christensen collided with a stationary semi-trailer that was blocking the entire roadway on Idaho Highway 20/26, a two-lane 65 mph rural road.  Mrs. Christensen died as a result of her accident injuries.  The 7:10 a.m. collision occurred while it was still dark, but the trailer was fully lighted, had its 4-way flashers going, and met all legal conspicuity requirements.  Deceased had been talking on her cell phone just prior to the wreck.  Plfs. alleged Def. driver was attempting to make a U-turn and the maneuver was physically impossible to accomplish.  Plfs. also alleged the truck driver was disqualified, based on driving record, and should not have been hired. 

Describe Physical Injuries by Plaintiff:

Wrongful death

Plaintiff Experts & Specialty (Name/Address/Phone)

Tom Fries, Accident Reconstruction, Portland, OR; Dr. Richard Gill, Human Factor, Spokane, WA; Arthur Atkinson, Trucking Safety, Glendale, AZ; Walter Kosmatkia, Illumination, Highland Hts., Ohio.

Defense Experts & Specialty (Name/Address/Phone)

Dennis Andrews, Accident Reconstruction, Tooele, UT; James Harris, Illumination.

Comments:  (Please add additional page(s) if necessary)

As submitting plaintiff’s attorney, I certify that the facts contained herein are true and accurate and hereby give permission to APITLAmerica® to publish this account of this case in any place they so choose, including, but not limited to, at APITLAmerica CLEs, in any APITLAmerica® literature, on the APITLAmerica® website, in the APITLAmerica® newsletter, and in any books, articles, Powerpoints, presentations, and in any other means or method of publication or transmission in the total discretion of APITLAmerica®.  Furthermore, by my signature below, I also hereby release and provide to APITLAmerica® any copyrights to the information contained in this case report, and warrant that no other copyrights have been given to any other entity for this material.

Submitted by:

Plaintiff Attorney:  Andrew M. Chasan

Chasan & Walton, L.L.C.

(co-counsel Timothy C. Walton, Chasan & Walton, L.L.C.)

Phone:    208 345-3760                            Fax:  208 345-0288


PO Box 1069

Email Address:


Boise, Idaho 83701


Putting the Brakes on Unsafe Trucking Companies