Civil lawsuits against a prominent real estate broker charged in a fatal DUI wreck could be worth nearly half a billion dollars, lawyers told a judge Tuesday.
Scott Gragson is accused of crashing his Range Rover in the upscale Summerlin community of The Ridges last month, killing Melissa Newton, a mother of three, and injuring three others.
Christopher Bentley, a real estate executive who suffered brain damage and is being treated in Colorado, according to his lawyer, William Kemp, sued Gragson earlier this month.
Another attorney, Robert Eglet, told District Judge Rob Bare on Tuesday that he represents Newton and the two other victims in the crash, Greg Tassi and Christie Cobbett. Eglet told a reporter after the court hearing that companion lawsuits to Bentley’s were “imminent,” without offering a specific date.
Kemp told the judge that the combined lawsuits could seek $68 million in compensatory damages, with upward of $400 million in punitive damages.
“The bottom line, your honor, is this is probably the largest single accident case in the United States at the present time,” Kemp said.
Gragson’s attorney, Todd Bice, dismissed the figures as a play for media attention.
Kemp and Eglet want to preserve blood taken from Gragson after the crash to test his blood alcohol level.
Gragson admitted to police that he consumed at least four to five mixed drinks, with beer, starting at 9 a.m. the morning of the May 30 crash, which occurred about 4:50 p.m.
He had a blood alcohol level of nearly twice the legal limit almost four hours later, records show.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Eric Bauman, the lead prosecutor in the criminal case against Gragson, told the judge that a blood sample had been sent to a lab in Pennsylvania for more testing.
The lawyers in the lawsuit are also seeking a hair sample from Gragson to determine whether he had ingested any drugs around the time of the crash.
Bice argued that there was no evidence Gragson had taken drugs and that the suggestion was an attempt “to poison the jury pool.”
“There just simply isn’t a good faith basis for this request at all, and it is serving an improper purpose,” Bice said.
Before the wreck, Gragson and others in his Range Rover attended a Links for Life charity golf tournament, developed and promoted by Gragson.
After the event, the 53-year-old Gragson rolled up to the security gate of The Ridges community in his Range Rover, smelling of alcohol, and acting aggressively, his arrest report said.
Victims’ attorney Eglet said Gragson’s behavior just before the crash “raises a level of suspicion that there may be other things here involved other than alcohol. In our view, there is at least a possibility that there was an interaction of some sort of illicit drug and alcohol.”
Bare decided that lawyers for the victims needed more evidence to preserve a hair sample.