Lawsuit: Pierce County ignored dangerous intersection where teen died

The parents of a teenager killed by a drunken driver contends Pierce County also is to blame for the boy’s death because it did not make suggested improvements to the “unreasonably dangerous” intersection where the crash occurred.

Michael Dimmitt; his wife, Lydia, and the couple’s surviving children seek unspecified damages in a lawsuit filed Thursday in Superior Court.

The suit, filed on the family’s behalf by attorneys Sok-Khieng Lim and Benjamin Zielinski, also names as defendants the driver convicted in Quinnton Dimmitt’s death and the owners of the car the man was driving at the time of the wreck.

County spokesman Ron Klein said Friday the county had yet to be served with the lawsuit and that its policy is not to comment on pending litigation.

Quinnton Dimmitt, 17, died April 25, 2014, at 84th Street East and Waller Road East.

He had gone out that morning to get his mother a coffee and was driving through the intersection when Miguel Argueta, driving under the influence of alcohol, sped through at 90 mph and collided with Dimmitt’s car.

Dimmitt, who was two months away from graduating from Franklin Pierce High School, suffered massive injuries and died about three hours later. Argueta, 27, later pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

The lawsuit blames Argueta for Quinnton Dimmitt’s death and also points a finger at the couple who allowed Argueta to drive their minivan the night before.

But it holds Pierce County especially responsible.

The Dimmitts contend county officials have been aware for years that the intersection of 84th and Waller was dangerous and the site of numerous collisions. Traffic engineers recommended several minor improvements for safety, but none was implemented, the suit states.

Improving safety at the intersection also was part of the county’s 2009-2014 Transportation Improvement Program, according to the lawsuit. Still, nothing was done, the suit contends.

“From January 2000 through June 2014, defendants Pierce County ... failed to install low-cost measures at the intersection of 84th Street East and Waller Road East, such as a multi-way stop, to help allevaiate and/or mitigate the traffic incidents before a traffic controlled signal could be installed,” according to the lawsuit.

“Pierce County’s failure to install meaningful low-cost measures ... caused and/or contributed to the April 25, 2014 collision involving the decedent and defendant Argueta,” the suit claims.

Adam Lynn: 253-597-8644, @TNTAdam