Two civil jury trials got underway Monday in Schuylkill County court, one brought against the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (Penn-DOT) by a mother whose son was killed in a one car accident on a state road; and the second by a property owner against an insurance firm alleging breach of contract.

Fatal crash

The civil action being heard before President Judge William E. Baldwin was brought by Eva Morgans, 269 Little Mountain Road, Ringtown, as administratrix of the the estate of Daniel Hartzel III, her late son, who suffered fatal injuries as he was driving a car on Route 4006 outside Gordon, Butler Township, on Dec. 23, 2007.

His vehicle ran into several feet of standing water on the roadway covering the lane he was traveling and the car slid off the road and struck an embankment, flipped several times before coming to final resting point.

The suit alleges the transportation department was negligent in failing to properly reconstruct the road and maintain it. PennDOT denies any negligence claiming the vehicle was going at a speed exceeding 60 miles-per-hour in a 35 zone at the time the accident occurred. The driver was 16 years old and only had his license for six months.

Insurance dispute

Judge Charles Miller is presiding over the case of Laurie and Christopher Bugdanavage, of 607 Fourth St., Marlin, Norwegian Township, versus Donegal Mutual Insurance Company, of Marietta.

The suit alleges the couple's home at 127 Spencer Street, Minersville, was destroyed by a fire termed accidental and that the insurance company has failed to pay the full amount under terms of a policy the property owner had with the company. The insurance company denies breach of contract.