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Survivor drops lawsuit against Batson, foundation

December 24, 2013

"TEXAS!" crash survivor Timothy Johnson. Courtesy photo.

The lone survivor of an Aug. 12 car crash that killed five “Texas” musical drama employees has dropped his lawsuit against the party’s host and the foundation that produces the show.
In a document filed in 108th District Court, cast member Timothy Johnson abandoned his lawsuit accusing Batson, his cattle company and the foundation of negligence in their roles as hosts of a party at the Coldwater Ranch in Sherman County celebrating the end of the 2013 season. Authorities have said alcohol was a factor in the deadly crash.
“I am so thankful it is over,” Johnson is quoted as saying in a joint statement released Monday by Batson, Coldwater Cattle and the foundation. “I have had (a hard time) dealing with this because I never wanted it (the lawsuit).
“My ‘Texas’ family means so much to me, I am so thankful to have that relationship ...” Johnson continued, according to the statement. “This was the right thing to do.”
Batson and foundation Executive Director Kris Miller expressed appreciation for Johnson.
Johnson “has always been a leader and an incredible young man,” Batson said in the statement. “We are sadly reminded, at this time of year, of the grief we share with the families who lost loved ones in this terrible tragedy.
“The nonsuit by Mr. Johnson speaks for itself and it is hoped that such action will assist the grieving process of the extended ‘Texas’ family.”
The notice of nonsuit filed Friday on behalf of Johnson by Johnson’s Amarillo attorney, Channy Wood, referred only to Johnson’s case and did not mention intervenor June Bush, mother of Julian Arredondo IV, who died in the crash.
Five “Texas” cast and crew members died in the crash in Moore County.
Johnson, 30, sought $1 million in damages. He was hospitalized for numerous weeks after the accident, but posts on his Facebook page indicate he recently returned home to Portland, Ore.
Bush, a Tarrant County resident, intervened in Johnson’s lawsuit on Sept. 19, joining in his claims that Batson, the cattle company and the foundation bore responsibility in the crash that which killed her 24-year-old son.
Bush sued for damages between $200,000 and $1 million.
The lawsuit alleged the driver of the car transporting Arredondo, Johnson and other cast and crew members home from the party failed to yield the right of way and pulled in front of a tractor-trailer on U.S. Highway 287, north of Dumas.
The driver, “Texas” cast member Clint Diaz, had a blood-alcohol level of .165 — twice the legal driving limit — and traces of marijuana in his blood, according to a Texas Department of Public Safety crash report.
Batson and Coldwater Cattle had responded to the lawsuit by asserting that everyone in the car, including Diaz, “were adults, according to the laws of the state of Texas,” and therefore were “fully competent to appoint an agent or representative to drive or transport them.”
The foundation argued that Johnson and Arredondo “voluntarily placed themselves in harm’s way by riding in a vehicle operated by Clinton Diaz, whom they knew to be impaired and/or under the influence of alcohol and illegal drugs,” according to an Oct. 29 filing.
In the emailed statement by the defendants, Miller called Johnson a “good friend” and said “his decision to drop the lawsuit was incredible but not a surprise.”
“You have to know Tim to understand, but he is an incredible man,” Miller’s comment continued. “It is a joy to watch the younger dancers and company members look up to him as inspiration.”
Wood was out of the office and unavailable for comment Monday.
Attorneys for the defendants did not immediately return calls for comment.
Attempts on Monday to reach Bush were unsuccessful.

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