LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A second civil lawsuit has been filed against Jordan Barson, the truck driver in the Dec. 10, 2020, crash that killed five bicyclists on the road between Boulder City and Searchlight.
The wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the family of cyclist Michael Murray was filed Monday in District Court. A lawsuit filed in December, 2021, by the family of cyclist Tom Trauger was the first.
Barson, 46, reached a plea agreement, pleading guilty to two counts of DUI resulting in death, and is currently serving his sentence at the Steward Conservation Camp in Carson City. He is expected to serve 16-40 years.
The lawsuit in Murray’s death names Barson, David Merrill, who was driving a pilot vehicle, and the company Barson was working for, Roadrunner Transport AZ Inc. of Lake Havasu, Arizona, as well as several companies affiliated with the trucking operation and unnamed employees of those companies.
According to allegations in the lawsuit, Merrill was negligent in allowing the riders to be divided into two groups — one group ahead of the vehicle and another group behind. The cyclists who were killed were riding behind the pilot vehicle. The lawsuit by Trauger’s family also included claims against Merrill.
Blood tests showed Barson had nine times the legal limit of methamphetamine in his system when he ran through the group of bicyclists, hitting the pilot vehicle on U.S. Highway 95.
Las Vegas bicyclists Murray, 57, Trauger, 57, Erin Michelle Ray, 39, Gerrard Suarez Nieva, 41, and Aksoy Ahmet, 48, were killed in the crash. Four others were injured.
The lawsuit seeks general, compensatory and special damages, Murray’s future earnings, punitive damages, funeral expenses and attorneys’ fees.
Murray’s heirs and the administrator of his estate are named in the lawsuit: Annette Brown, Judy Brown, David Murray and Douglas Murray. They are represented by Las Vegas attorneys Clark McCourt Injury Lawyers.
“There are no words to express what you’ve done to our family … what you did to my brother,” Douglas Murray said during an emotional hearing in court before Barson was sentenced. “I can’t imagine him laying out there in the road looking at the carnage that this man created.”
Nevada Highway Patrol troopers did not suspect Barson was impaired, but a blood test administered without a warrant would later find he had a level of methamphetamine in his system often seen in corpses. The lawsuit does not involve the department.
Four days after the crash, during an in-person interview at his home, Barson admitted to consuming methamphetamine around 4 p.m. on Dec. 9, one day before the crash. He told troopers he did not sleep well but continued his driving route from Arizona to Las Vegas. Troopers described him in their arresting documents as a “recovering methamphetamine user.”