Defending Your Rights And Protecting You And Your Family

Wrongful Death Case Involving Motorcycle

Ros Willis, Administrator of the Estate of Wyatt Mankins, deceased, v. Joro Fleet Services and Phengvilay Chanthavong

Type of action: Wrongful death/Motorcycle-auto accident
Court: Virginia Beach Circuit Court
Attorneys for Plaintiff: George T. Albiston and Christopher M. Albiston, Norfolk

Plaintiff’s decedent, Wyatt Mankins, a 24-year-old member of the United States Navy was operating his motorcycle on Virginia Beach Blvd on June 22, 2022, near the intersection with Village Rd. The individual defendant was driving a vehicle owned by the corporate defendant, a 2021 Ford F550 (Box truck). He was coming in the opposite direction of Wyatt. The defendant negligently attempted to make a left-hand turn onto Village Rd. across the lanes in which Wyatt was traveling. The defendant failed to look and see Wyatt, and the box truck was across both lanes of travel as Wyatt came upon that intersection. Wyatt was forced to lay the motorcycle down and both he and the bike came into contact with the truck. Wyatt died at the scene. The defendant was charged and convicted of failure to yield

As the accident occurred near multiple businesses, there were a few different camera angles which captured the accident. There was some allegation by the defense that Wyatt was exceeding the speed limit, though no experts were ever consulted for their opinion. The box truck also contained dash cameras, both forward looking and backwards facing the defendant driver. The cameras showed the defendant looking in other directions and eating a candy bar directly before and during the accident.

The case was mediated before the Honorable Charles E. Poston and it settled for $1,850,000. The defendant corporation’s insurance limits were $2,000,000. However, there ultimately ended up being a binding arbitration for the distribution of the wrongful death proceeds as there was no agreement regarding the distribution. The statutory claimants included Samuel Mankins (Wyatt’s father), Amanda Baldino-Miller (Wyatt’s mother), Cody Mankins (Wyatt’s brother), Connor Burns (Wyatt’s half-brother) and Catherine Burns (Wyatt’s half-sister).

The Honorable Charles E. Poston presided over the arbitration. The evidence presented at arbitration was that Wyatt’s mother had not had any contact with Wyatt since he was 10 years old. There was also evidence that she still owed child support arrearages in regards to Wyatt, as Wyatt’s father had physical custody of both Wyatt and his brother during their childhoods. It was shown that Wyatt was exceptionally close with his father, his step-mother, Jennifer and his brother Cody. In fact, in arbitration Cody referred to Jennifer as his mother. Jennifer testified that Wyatt and Cody were inseparable. Both Wyatt and Cody had plans to get to know their half-siblings in the future.

Judge Poston divided the settlement proceeds among the beneficiaries, excluding Wyatt’s mother from recovery. The proceeds were split proportionally among the remaining beneficiaries.