Trial over local oral surgeon’s death at car dealership continues

Dr. Jerry Don Lance. (Funeral home photo)
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) Testimony continued Tuesday morning in a lawsuit filed by the widow and children of a prominent Waco oral surgeon who died 12 days after he was run over on a car dealership parking lot in April 2017.

Waco attorney John Mabry filed the wrongful death lawsuit in Waco's 414th District Court in the interest of Kayron Lance, widow of Dr. Jerry Don Lance, and Sherry and Jason Lance, the doctor's children, against Bird-Kultgen Ford, Inc., and their employee Ernesto Ramirez.

Andrew T. McKinney IV, of Houston, represents Bird-Kultgen and Ramirez.

Monday, after the attorneys and Judge Vicky Menard selected a jury, the lawyers made their opening statements, during which Mabry told the jury the reason the lawsuit went to trial is because Bird-Kultgen had refused to accept responsibility in the issue.

McKinney said in his opening that Lance's death was a split second tragic accident and the dealership bore no responsibility for his death.

Lance died May 3, 2017 after spending almost a dozen days in the hospital being treated for injuries he received when he was struck by a vehicle at about 8:15 a.m. on April 20, 2017, Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said at the time of Lance's death.

A police report later filed in connection with the incident said DrLance suffered significant head injuries and broken facial and other bones.

Mabry said the lawsuit filing was a last resort after he'd tried many times to convince the insurance company that covers Bird-Kultgen to accept responsibility for Lance's death, but insurance company lawyers refused.

In a statement Mabry issued when the lawsuit was filed, Mabry said: "We held off on filing suit to give Bird-Kultgen's insurance company the opportunity to resolve this matter without litigation, but the insurance company chose to lowball the Lances and add insult to injury by refusing to settle."

"Blame for Dr. Lance's death falls on Bird-Kultgen Ford and their employee, but blame for having to file this lawsuit falls on their insurance company."

Mabry added, "Dr. Lance was a beloved member of our community and we believe a McLennan County jury will show the insurance company how wrong they were for refusing to do the right thing for the Lance and Kultgen families and settle this matter," Mabry wrote.

The suit says Lance was walking around the lot after dropping his vehicle off for repairs when a 2017 Ford Expedition that was traveling in reverse down an aisle of new vehicles "at a high rate of speed."

"Detectives from the Waco Police Department investigated the incident and determined that (SUV driver) Mr. Ramirez was at fault for "backing without safety," the suit says.

"Dr. Lance was dragged over 20 feet after being hit by the Expedition which was traveling upwards of 22 mph in reverse at the time of impact," the lawsuit says.

Lance was taken to Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest hospital where "he was diagnosed with bleeding and pressure on his brain (subdural hematoma and subarachnoid hemorrhage), air and blood in his chest cavity (hemopneumothorax), multiple facial fractures, eight fractured ribs and flail chest, a fractured pelvis, a fractured right hand, and multiple bruises, abrasions and lacerations," the suit says.

The Lance's had been married for 46 years and for 40 of those years he'd been practicing dentistry in Waco.