Judge R. Craig Tatterson on June 13 denied a motion to transfer a wrongful death suit against Charles N. “Chuck” Zerkle filed by the estate of Mike Carter from Mason to Cabell Circuit Court. The ruling came in the form of a letter, and following an April 22 hearing.
The letter gave no detailed explanation for denying the motion.
According to initial media reports, Carter, 88, died following a collision with Zerkle just before 8 a.m. on Sunday, July 29, 2018 along W. Va. Route 2 in Lesage. An initial investigation by West Virginia State Police found Carter caused the collision when he failed to obey a stop sign at intersection of Ohio River Rd. and Sanns Dr.
However, the suit filed by Jeffrey W. Carter, administrator of Mike Carter’s estate, places Zerkle at fault. In his complaint filed Jan. 23, 2019, Carter maintains Zerkle was driving a 2018 GMC Sierra north on Ohio River Rd.“at a high rate of speed in excess of the posted speed limit,” when he struck the elder Carter in a 2002 Ford F-150 pick-up truck while attempting to turn south.
Additionally, Carter alleges at the time of the collision, Zerkle “was working as an officer, agent and/or employee of …Z&Z Enterprises, Inc. in the course of job related activities.” Named as a co-defendant in the suit, Z&Z Enterprises in the parent company of Apple Grove Market, a grocery/convenience store Zerkle owns with his wife, Sandra.
In the motion filed March 7, Camille E. Shora, with the McLean, Va. law firm of Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Eldelman & Dicker, said the suit is in the wrong venue as the accident, and fatality occurred in Cabell, and not Mason, County Also, though admitting Zerkle is the owner of Z&Z Enterprises, he was not “‘on the clock'” that morning.
In an affidavit attached to the motion, Zerkle avers he “was driving from my home in Cabell county to cut the grass at a property in Mason County.” The location of the property is not specified.
Since Tatterson’s ruling, the sides have exchanged discovery requests. Letisha R. Bika with the Charleston law firm of Farmer, Cline and Campbell represents the Carter estate.
No trial date is set.
Mason Circuit Court, case number 19-C-6