An Idaho Springs man was awarded $18.5 million for catastrophic injuries he suffered when a driver drunk left a mountain road and slammed into him as he was laying in his driveway, changing the oil in wife’s car.

SAVAGE v. GUY and RUSZKOWSKI
Homeowner in His Own Driveway When Jeep Crushes Him.
Court: DISTRICT COURT, CLEAR CREEK COUNTY, STATE OF COLORADO
Plaintiff’s Counsel: Chalat Hatten Koupal & Banker PC

Facts

Paul Savage, 46, was changing the oil on his wife’s car in their driveway when a drunk driver flew off the road and slammed into him. As a result of the accident, Mr. Savage is now in a wheelchair and will never walk again except “more than a few heavily assisted steps at a time” and is a “functional paraplegic.” He has incurred more than $4.3 million in medical bills and is expected to have another $4.9 million the rest of his life. Paul Savage was head waiter at the Alpenglow Stube at Keystone at the time.

Clear Creek District Court Judge Russell Granger awarded Paul and Pam Savage $18.5 million after hearing the evidence during a trial to the bench. Judge Granger assessed the award against the driver, Kevin Ruszkowski, 24; the owner of the Jeep, Randall Guy; and Guy’s son, Justin Guy, 20, who had allowed Ruszkowski to drive the vehicle. Ruszkowski had no license because his driving privileges had either been suspended or revoked for prior driving misconduct.

The impact of the crash crushed Paul Savage. The Jeep, which became airborne, smashed into the Savage’s house. Both Ruszkowski and Guy fled the scene but were apprehended a short time later.

Judge Granger said he was assessing Ruszkowski $1 million in punitive damages both for “driving the Jeep while drinking and smoking marijuana and for fleeing the scene of a collision amid the screams of his victims.” In fining Justin Guy, who was a passenger in the Jeep, another $1 million, Granger said he permitted Ruszkowski to drive his Jeep despite knowing that Ruszkowski had been drinking and smoking marijuana all day.

Ruszkowski pleaded guilty to vehicular assault/DUI and leaving the scene of an accident. He was sentenced to six years on vehicular assault/DUI and four years on leaving the scene. The sentence was later reduced to four years of intense supervised probation after he successfully completed boot camp.

Justin Guy was convicted of obstructing government operations and sentenced to 40 hours of useful public service and 12 months of unsupervised probation.

Read the Order and Judgment

Past results are no guarantee of future results.