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Lawsuit Filed in Collision that Claimed Two Lives

Story by Shannon Taylor Senior Investigative Reporter

On Feb. 7 a wrongful death lawsuit was filed by a Martin resident, Kristy Sawyers, as surviving spouse and next of kin for her husband, Steven Sawyers, deceased, and on behalf of beneficiaries (two children).

Sawyer’s named defendants Bruce Conley, the administrator ad Litem for the estate of Jaxon Jones, deceased, Kimberly and Gregory Jones (parents of deceased). The Jones are residents of Gibson County.

On Saturday, April 2, 2022, at 1:38 a.m., Steven Sawyers was operating a 2007 white Cadillac. Sawyers’ vehicle was located just west of the Weakley County line, while traveling eastbound on Highway 22, which is a divided highway. Shortly before this time, Sawyers had left work at Tyson Foods, Inc., in Union City, and was in the process of driving to his home in Martin.

At the same time, Jaxon Jones was operating a 2011 black Ford Escape, owned by Kimberly and Gregory Jones, on Highway 22. “Upon information and belief, Jaxon Jones had previously consumed extremely large amounts of alcohol and/or other intoxicants.” Jones was extremely intoxicated, 3.5 times the legal limit, driving at speeds equal to or greater than 100 miles per hour, operating the vehicle at night with no headlights on as well as driving on the wrong side of the highway.

“With complete disregard for human life, safety, and well-being of motorists in Obion County, Jaxon Jones caused a head-on collision with the vehicle being driven by Steven Sawyers.”

Sawyers died as a result of the collision. The vehicle that Jones was driving was owned by his parents who Sawyers claims, “exclusively controlled the use of this vehicle.” This, Jones was driving the vehicle with the “full consent, knowledge, and authority of Kimberly and/or Gregory Jones.”

The lawsuits alleges that Jones was negligent because he violated 10 different Tennessee Statutes. It also alleges that under Tennessee law, a statutory presumption of agency exists from proof that Jones’ parents owned the automobile Jones was driving and that the owner of a vehicle driven by their son. They cited Gray v. Mitsky, a case won by the plaintiff who sued the father of the driver of a car that rear-ended her vehicle.

Sawyers attested in the lawsuit that Jones’ parents negligently entrusted their vehicle to their son, who “had a propensity to be involved in motor vehicle collisions, drive too fast and consume alcohol and/or other intoxicants to an excess.”

The lawsuit stated that the punitive damages sought are done with the intent to deter other drivers in Obion County from driving under the influence.

Compensation has been sought for physical injuries, including death, conscious, physical, and emotional pain and suffering of Sawyers from the time of injury to death, medical and/or funeral expenses, the pecuniary value of the life of Sawyers, the loss of human companionship and consortium on behalf of herself and two children, infliction of emotional distress upon herself and loss of normal pleasures and activities of life.

Sawyers is also seeking that Tenn. Code Ann. 29-39-102 violates the Tennessee constitution as well as her rights because it states that “compensation for noneconomic damages suffered by each injured plaintiff not to exceed $750,000 for all injuries and occurrences that were or could have been asserted, regardless of whether the action is based on a single act or omission or a series of acts or omissions that allegedly caused the injuries or death.” A copy of the lawsuit has been served on the Tennessee Attorney General notifying him that plaintiffs are challenging the constitutionality of the code.

Sawyers has requested a jury of 12 people to try the case and compensation not to exceed $40 million in total.

This is a developing story.