On trial for vehicular homicide, sues family she killed

by Walter Olson on August 10, 2010

Citing text messages she sent her boyfriend shortly before the incident, Montana prosecutors contend that Justine Winter’s crash at 85 mph into an oncoming vehicle was a deliberate suicide attempt. Winter, who faces trial on homicide charges in the deaths of Erin Thompson, the woman she ran into, and Thompson’s 13-year-old son, has now sued Thompson’s estate as well as the construction company that built the interstate overpass where the accident occurred. [Daily Inter Lake, Siouxsie Law]

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DYSPEPSIA GENERATION » Blog Archive » On trial for vehicular homicide, sues family she killed
08.10.10 at 2:13 pm


1 Aaron Worthing 08.10.10 at 8:48 am

I have to say that reading the article was kind of frustrating. For instance, the girl alleges that there were no lane markings at that time. and the newspaper just reports the allegation. Hey, newspaper, why don’t you find out? I mean that’s not exactly a state secret, it is the condition of a public road, okay?

I don’t think this is necessarily as insane as claimed. First, I don’t accept the proposition that the person most injured is automatically innocent of negligence. I mean I drive an SUV. If I collide with a Smart car, no matter what it is pretty much guaranteed that the Smart car will get the worst of it. but does it follow that no matter what in a collision between my car and his, I am at fault? Of course not.

Look, this woman has significant factual disputes. Her story, if credited, does make the other side negligent. Now the state seems VERY confident that her story is complete crap. But based on a newspaper article written by someone who doesn’t seem very interested in actual investigation, its hard for me to say she is definitely wrong now. I tend to believe the police, but its not complete wide-eyed slack jawed trust.

So I say that she is probably in the wrong, but i am not ready to conclude she definitely is and therefore this is definitely an outrage. let the trials go and let the facts come out. and either she will be exonerated or we will learn she is every bit the a–hole we might suspect she is.

2 Anon, Esq. 08.10.10 at 11:05 am

There wouldn’t be an issue, if she had waited to file her suit. She hasn’t been exonerated and the facts of the case are very bad for her. I think her suit is outrageous.

3 Aaron Worthing 08.10.10 at 11:42 am


You don’t have to wait for the state to declare you “not guilty” before filing a civil suit. Prosecutors ARE known to scapegoat people, you know?

I’m not saying she is innocent. i am just saying we shouldn’t pretend we are enough to know one way or the other.

4 Mike 08.10.10 at 12:00 pm

Another example where Loser Pays is very badly needed

5 Brian 08.10.10 at 3:55 pm

There are a few words I would use here. Absurd, Outrageous, Frivolous and ridiculous to the extreme. I agree with Mike Loser Pays is needed for suits such as these

6 Bill Poser 08.10.10 at 5:15 pm

I don’t see how “the facts of the case are very bad for her”. We don’t know what the facts are. They’re in dispute. The facts as alleged by the prosecution are bad for her.

Not only is there no reason for Winters to wait for the resolution of the criminal case to proceed with her civil suit, but there is a good reason not to. She probably has a limited time in which to sue. I don’t know Montana law, but typically you have to sue within a year or two of the incident. If the criminal proceedings last a long time, she could miss the deadline.

7 kimsch 08.10.10 at 6:19 pm

She isn’t suing the car manufacturer? If she wasn’t in the car, she wouldn’t have had the accident… Or the cell carrier? If she couldn’t text her boyfriend….

8 Stella Baskomb 08.11.10 at 5:38 am

Well, I can certainly understand how the pregnant woman and her son were responsible for Winter going 85 mph, can’t you? And isn’t it obvious that the State is responsible for failing to ensure Winter’s side of the road was wide enough to prevent the crash?

No wonder she is suing!

9 Frank 08.11.10 at 2:55 pm

“I don’t accept the proposition that the person most injured is automatically innocent of negligence”

Was this proposition proposed?

10 stylist1220 08.31.10 at 1:06 am

I understand the discussion on the legal motive in this case, but have very little sympathy or any level of respect for this girl or her family.

I do live in the town where Erin lived. I am a fellow hairstylist as was Erin. I do know her friends, family and her. Not only was Erin one of the most genuine, kind and amazing people you could have the chance to know but she was first and foremost an amazing mother. She was so in love with her son, husband and child on the way that it brings tears just viewing their pictures. The bond between Erin and her son was truly remarkable; they radiated when in each others company. The only thought that keeps this tragedy from killing everyone that knew them is that they left this world together. I don’t honestly see how one could be here without the other.

So now after destroying this family, demolishing the connections of her friends and clientele, erasing a positive and necessary person in our community Ms. Winters and her parents see it fit to continue to torture the only person left in that family. As if her husband has not had enough despair, heartbreak, anger and sadness in his life they decide to dredge more his way.

I only have one wish for Ms. Winters: as she grows, falls in love marries and waits for the arrival of her first child that she then gets the full understanding of her choices from that day. That when she holds that child in her arms for the first time she feels the full impact of what it means to love something other than yourself.

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