By JOHN BURNETT
Tribune-Herald staff writer
The family of a 56-year-old Naalehu woman who died in a fiery head-on traffic collision in Ka‘u that killed five people have filed suit against the estate of the other driver.
Honolulu attorneys Michael Green, Peter Hsieh and Shawn Ching filed the lawsuit Oct. 9 in Hilo Circuit Court on behalf of the children of Trinidad “Trini” Ballesteros; Harry D. Ballesteros, who is also the personal representative of the estate; Leroy Ballesteros; Rae Lynn Ballesteros-Takuie; and Jennifer Ballesteros. The defendants in the lawsuit are Patricia Ingoglia, trustee of the Donald and Patricia Ingoglia family trust, and unnamed Doe defendants, including the still-to-be-named personal executor of the estate of Donald Ingoglia.
Police said that on Jan. 23, Trini Ballesteros was driving a 2002 Ford F-350 dually pickup truck that was struck head-on by a white Nissan Altima sedan near mile-marker 54 of Highway 11, just to the Kona side of Punaluu Stream Bridge south of Pahala. The truck caught fire and Ballesteros and her passenger, 64-year-old Richard Taylor, also of Naalehu, died at the scene, apparently while trying to escape the inferno.
Taylor’s daughter told Stephens Media in January that her father and Trini Ballesteros were in a relationship, although she was still legally married to Harry Ballesteros, the children’s father. Although the senior Ballesteros is not specifically named as a plaintiff in the suit, Ching said “he would be a party to the lawsuit through the personal representative.”
All three occupants of the sedan also died. Police say that 73-year-old Donald Ingoglia, a Sacramento attorney, suffered a heart attack which caused him to lose control of the car and cross the center line. Also killed was Ingoglia’s 39-year-old son, Philip Ingoglia of Costa Rica, and 9-year-old grandson, Isidora Ingoglia, also of Costa Rica.
The suit alleges wrongful death, negligence, gross negligence, willful, wanton or reckless conduct, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. It seeks unspecified general, special and punitive or exemplary damages, attorneys’ fees and costs and interest.
Police said they didn’t believe speed to be a factor in the crash, but Green said Tuesday he believes otherwise.
“We don’t know yet because we haven’t gotten discovery, but the guy (Ingoglia) is going so fast our vehicle turns over. The guy’s speeding,” Green said. “If they want to make it out to appear an accident, that he had a heart attack and lost control, I’m not buyin’ that.”
Asked what his clients are seeking, Green said, “I’ve got two dead people.”
“There’s something called special damages, which is past, present and future lost earnings, all the money that was expended for the funeral. I’ve got someone that burned to death, and I still can’t tell whether or not they were alive at the time the body caught fire. Then there’s … loss of enjoyment of life and things like that.”
Asked if Ingoglia has a will, Ching replied: “There was a family trust, so there would be the assumption that he would have a will or some sort of family planning in place.”
“When you have this kind of a case, normally the insurance companies are inclined to (pay out) their policies, as long as it doesn’t run into the millions of dollars,” Green said. “But this is a negligence case, and when you have two people who end up dead in their car, then you have a tremendous amount of damages, but we’re probably another six months or so from finding out.
“This is a rental car (driven by Ingoglia). We’re trying to find out (the details of) the policy of the rental car company. So we’ll see what it is. You’ve got five dead here.”
Email John Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.