Venus Williams Settles Wrongful Death Lawsuit With Family of Man Killed in Crash

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
November 21, 2018Sportsshare

Tennis star Venus Williams has settled a wrongful death suit related to a fatal traffic accident she was involved in near her Florida residence in June 2017, according to court records.

The terms of the agreement between Williams and the estate of Jerome Barson, 78, who died in the crash, were not disclosed in the court documents. The lawsuit, which was filed in Palm Beach County Circuit Court, was settled on Nov. 15.

Representatives for Williams and Barson’s estate did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The Barson family sought damages in excess of $15,000.

Barson, who was a passenger in the sedan that collided with the SUV that Williams was driving, died 13 days after the accident. His wife, Linda Barson, 68, was driving the sedan.

Williams was originally found at fault for the accident, which occurred days before she was to compete at Wimbledon.

Police had said Williams had failed to yield the right-of-way. Later they decided not to charge her because video surveillance showed she entered the intersection lawfully and a car not involved in the collision forced her to stop in the intersection, where Williams’s vehicle was struck by the Barsons’ car.

Venus Williams at US Open
Venus Williams during her women’s singles match against Serena Williams at the 2018 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City on Aug. 31, 2018. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Lawfully Entered Intersection

Video evidence prompted the police to reverse their initial finding that Williams was at fault. The survellance footage was released in July and supported her account of the crash.

“Based upon this investigation and relevant Florida state statutes, no charges will be filed in this case,” according to an 18-page traffic homicide investigation released on Dec. 20 by the Palm Beach Gardens police, reported the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

The Linda Barson drove into an intersection when the light turned green and t-boned Williams’s SUV as she waited in the intersection. She said she couldn’t move out of the intersection, being trapped after a car turned left in front of her. “I was caught in the middle. I never saw that car coming,” Williams told an officer at the scene.

“The unknown dark-colored vehicle … started a sequence of events resulting in [Barson] crashing into [Williams],” the report said.

“You got stuck in a bad situation,” the officer told Williams at the scene. “I’m not giving you a citation, because I don’t feel comfortable writing a citation when I’m not 100 percent sure. And I’m not 100 percent sure in this case, because you had the right of way but lost the right of way.”

Death

After the crash, Barson was rushed to the hospital with multiple injuries to his spleen, pelvis, and middle-intestine area. He developed multi-organ failure and remained in intensive care until June 22, according to the autopsy report, reported WPTV.

The Palm Beach County Medical Examiner said that Barson died from complications of blunt force injuries due to the motor vehicle collision.

Barson was obese and had a history of coronary artery disease that included heart disease, the medical examiner said. He also had injuries in the spleen and pelvic areas from a prior car crash.

Williams is currently ranked 39th in the world, according to the Women’s Tennis Association.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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