It is not often that every detail of a pedestrian injury case is reported as it happens in the press. Such is the case, however, when the case involves famous child actor Gary Coleman. The case stems from an incident that happened in Payson, Utah, in the southern part of Utah County in September of this year. According to newspaper accounts, local resident Colt Rushton recognized Coleman at an area bowling alley and started taking pictures of him on his camera phone. Police say that Coleman became agitated at the photo taking and Rushton was told that he would have to pay to take any more pictures of him. Rushton declined to pay and was outside attempting to take pictures of Coleman as Coleman exited the bowling alley. Rushton claims in a lawsuit filed in Utah Country against Coleman that the 4-foot 8-inch actor punched him in the chest and body. (According to booking records on Colt Rushton for charges of burglary and possession of a controlled substance, Rushton is 5-foot 9-inches.) Rushton further alleges that his cell phone was taken by Coleman’s wife Shannon Price-Coleman.
What happens next is a little unclear. According to an account of a friend of Coleman’s given to eonline.com, Coleman was backing up his truck when Rushton came behind it and was knocked over. Rushton wasn’t the only one hit as Coleman’s truck also hit another vehicle as it was leaving the parking lot. Rushton was reported to have been taken to an area hospital and treated for minor injuries. Mr. Coleman’s attorney, Randy Kester, maintains that “Mr. Coleman did nothing wrong.” Kester told People.com that “It was Mr. Rushton who provoked this incident. My client was simply trying to leave the bowling alley.”
Video Courtesy of KSL.com
Despite his plea of innocence, however, Gary Coleman pleaded no contest on December 2, 2008, to charges of reckless driving and disorderly conduct. Under the plea deal, these charges will be dropped in 9-month’s time if Coleman keeps his nose clean. Coleman told KSL.com that he took a plea deal because he wanted to get the case over with.
In the meantime, the personal injury lawsuit filed by Utah attorney Dustin Lance against Gary Coleman continues forward. In these types of auto accident cases, the insurance company for the alleged at-fault driver will hire attorneys to defend the action. I would expect the insurance company attorneys for Coleman in this case to allege that Rushton bears a good chuck of the responsibility for his injuries because he put himself behind the backing vehicle. Attorneys will probably also argue that if he was concerned that his phone was being stolen, he could have noted the license number of the truck and reported it to the police.
Injuries in this case also appear to be on the light side as far as personal injury cases go. If all Rushton had was a visit to the ER, you would not expect to see a lawsuit filed in such a case. Practically speaking, it would not be worth anyone’s time or money to let a low-injury personal injury case churn in the court docket for an expected 18-24 months. Rather, in a Utah pedestrian accident case, you would expect a settlement with the at-fault insurance company. That is, of course, unless they denied responsibility for the incident. Rushton’s criminal history may also prove problematic to his case at trial, especially if he has been convicted of a crime involving dishonesty or moral turpitude, such as burglary. Such a conviction can be used to impeach or discredit the story that Rushton may offer at trial. If he has any felonies on his record in the past 10 years, those likely will also come in at trial to his detriment.
One thing is clear, this is definitely an interesting case that we will continue to follow and comment on as it develops. See the criminal records source.
Published by: Ron Kramer