Leflore County businesswoman K.K. Henderson Kent has been ordered to pay more than $2 million to the mother of a man who died last year after a vehicle he was driving hit a donkey owned by Kent on a road near her house.
Leflore County Circuit Court Judge Ashley Hines handed down the default judgment in the wrongful death lawsuit July 29 after Kent failed to put up a defense.
Kent, who operates K.K.’s Deli in Greenwood and owns several rental properties, was sued by Sandra Santos, whose 19-year-old son, Jose Escudero, died as a result of the accident last September.
Escudero, a 2018 honor graduate of Amanda Elzy High School, had lived with his mother in Sidon. He was employed by Arnold Transportation.
The sum includes economic and non-economic damages and in part reflects the amount of money Escudero might have earned in a lifetime, according to court documents.
On Sept. 20, 2018, Escudero was traveling at dawn along County Road 512, which is unlit, when his vehicle collided with the donkey. Kent lives on County Road 512.
His vehicle veered off the right side of the road and into a tree. Escudero was found dead in the vehicle.
According to the lawsuit, Kent’s donkey “escaped her fence where one or more of the rails were down, missing or broken, and thereafter roamed onto County Road 512 and into the path of Escudero.”
The complaint also alleged that due to the close proximity of Kent’s fence to the road as well as Kent’s “actual or constructive knowledge of the defects in the fence and the significant increase in the risk of serious injury to motorists caused by livestock on the subject roadway, a fatal crash involving Defendant’s donkey or other livestock was not a matter of if, but when.”
Kent, according to the complaint, failed to prevent the donkey from roaming the road and failed to inspect the fence for rails that were down, missing or broken and did not inspect for dilapidation in general, as well as other matters to prevent “the escape of livestock.” Prior to Escudero’s death, several motorists “made numerous complaints to local law enforcement officials” about Kent’s livestock roaming on the road, the lawsuit claimed, but she “ignored motorists’ complaints and warnings from local law enforcement officials to keep her livestock, including the subject donkey, enclosed in her fence and out of the roadway.”
Kent could not be reached for comment Friday to see whether she plans to appeal.
•Contact Gerard Edic at 581-7239 or email@example.com.