Lawsuit targets Oakes Farms, truck driver for responsibility in hit-and-run death

Signs warn motorists driving onto Brookside Drive and Estey Avenue that trucks over 1 ton are not permitted. A lawsuit filed on behalf of Robin Wallace's family alleges an Oakes Farms employee drove an 18-wheeler down Estey Avenue, knocking Wallace off her bicycle and killing her.

Photo by JESSICA LIPSCOMB // Buy this photo

Signs warn motorists driving onto Brookside Drive and Estey Avenue that trucks over 1 ton are not permitted. A lawsuit filed on behalf of Robin Wallace's family alleges an Oakes Farms employee drove an 18-wheeler down Estey Avenue, knocking Wallace off her bicycle and killing her.

Dania Maxwell/Staff 
 John Wallace poses for a portrait in front of a collage of photographs made for the memorial service for his wife, Robin. "I never gave her a goodbye kiss," John said. Robin was killed Saturday while riding her bike in the middle of the day in Naples. The identity of the driver who hit her is still unknown. Robin was 48. A memorial service will be Saturday, October 6 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Naples Funeral Home.

Photo by DANIA MAXWELL, NAPLES DAILY NEWS // Buy this photo

Dania Maxwell/Staff John Wallace poses for a portrait in front of a collage of photographs made for the memorial service for his wife, Robin. "I never gave her a goodbye kiss," John said. Robin was killed Saturday while riding her bike in the middle of the day in Naples. The identity of the driver who hit her is still unknown. Robin was 48. A memorial service will be Saturday, October 6 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Naples Funeral Home.

The family of an East Naples woman who was killed in a September hit-and-run has filed an auto negligence suit against a local produce market, alleging its driver was responsible for her death.

Robin Wallace, 48, was on a bicycle ride Sept. 29 when she was hit and killed by a driver near Estey Avenue and Embassy Lane.

Although no criminal charges have been filed in the crash, the civil suit names Oakes Farms, 2205 Davis Blvd., as the responsible party in Wallace's death.

The suit, filed by Miami attorney David Bianchi, accuses an unnamed Oakes Farms employee of driving an 18-wheeler down Estey Avenue despite signs prohibiting trucks over 1 ton from using the road. The driver was careless, failed to keep a proper lookout, failed to slow down upon seeing Wallace, did not warn her of his approach with his horn and drove away without stopping to help her, according to the lawsuit.

The Florida Highway Patrol has not yet finished its investigation, and as of Friday no one had been arrested in connection with the crash. Attempts to reach officials for an update on the criminal case were unsuccessful.

Wallace's husband, John Wallace, declined comment Friday, referring questions to the family's attorney.

Bianchi said he believed FHP would release their results "very soon" and said he had good reason to name Oakes Farms as a defendant.

"Based on everything that we have learned, I am certain that she was killed by an Oakes Farms truck," he said.

Oakes Farms owner Alfie Oakes said he had not yet been served with the complaint. He denied responsibility but said his company has fully cooperated with the criminal investigation.

"It is the position of Oakes Farms that it is in no way connected to her death," Oakes said in a statement.

Bianchi said westbound trucks on Davis Boulevard often cut through Brookside Drive and Estey Avenue so they can take a right turn on Airport-Pulling Road and more easily head south. A truck coming from Oakes Farms would have to drive west on Davis and make a U-turn somewhere in order to be able to make a right and head south on Airport.

"What they do is they cut through this residential neighborhood, and they're not supposed to," Bianchi said. "Certain truck drivers just ignore the sign and drive through the neighborhood anyway because it's a shortcut.

"If the truck had not driven into this neighborhood in the first place … obviously, she'd be alive today," he said of Wallace.

Bianchi said he had not yet taken the driver's deposition but suspected he was distracted in some way.

"If you are paying attention, you absolutely would be able to see Mrs. Wallace on a bicycle," he said.

He also dismissed rumors that the driver's view could have been obstructed by trees.

"There's not a chance that a tree branch is going to obstruct his view of a woman on a bicycle," Bianchi said. "It's physically impossible."

A memorial at that intersection where Wallace was killed has been continually replenished with flowers and other tokens of love from family, friends and even strangers, who knew Wallace as a friendly McDonald's manager who was quick with a smile.

The lawsuit, filed Jan. 15 in Collier Circuit Court, seeks damages in excess of $75,000 and a jury trial on behalf of John Wallace and the couple's two children, who are 19 and 22. No dates have been set yet for upcoming court appearances.

© 2013 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Stories

Comments » 0

Be the first to post a comment!

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Comments can be shared on Facebook and Yahoo!. Add both options by connecting your profiles.

Features