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Haylee Burks’ parents file wrongful death suits

Published 4:15pm Thursday, April 12, 2012

Both parents of an 8-year-old Jemison Elementary School student struck by a vehicle and killed have filed wrongful death lawsuits against Danny Ray Smith.

The complaints were both filed on April 4, less than a week after Haylee Burks was struck near Kentuck Park in Northport as she walked with her mother and sister to their vehicle following the Tuscaloosa Regional Air Show on March 31.

Micah Burks’ complaint was filed at 10:02 a.m. in Tuscaloosa Circuit Court and Tanya Michelle Burks’ complaint was filed at 2:10 p.m., but a judge will decide which party has the right to bring the case to court.

Tanya Burks’ complaint says she was Haylee’s primary custodial parent.

Both complaints are similar, including the charge that Smith was acting in a business capacity leading up to the incident, thus making his two businesses parties in the case.

“This is an issue that will be determined during discovery, but we do know that Mr. Smith had been entertaining business clientele at his business immediately prior to the accident,” said Apsilah Owens Millsaps, who is representing Tanya Burks.

Smith owns Dixie Air Service in Northport and Danny Smith Construction Company in Tuscaloosa, according to court documents. Dixie Air Service is about 2 miles from the scene of the incident.

Tanya Burks’ complaint said that Haylee’s 3-year-old sister was also injured by the vehicle, and that Tanya Burks herself suffered four fractured vertebrae and cuts on her leg and arm, among other injuries.

“…Her injuries are temporarily totally disabling, she has suffered and will suffer pain and mental anguish, she has incurred and will continue to incur medical expenses for her care and treatment and the care and treatment of her minor daughter [and] she will lose income,” the complaint reads.

Both complaints request a trial by jury, and compensatory and punitive damages determined by the jury.

Attorneys representing Micah Burks couldn’t be reached Thursday.

Robert F. Prince, who is representing Smith, said his client intends to enter a plea of “not guilty” in both the civil and criminal cases.

“I can say, in behalf of Danny Smith and his entire family, how heartbroken they are that this happened,” Prince said. “Moreover, their prayers go out for the Burks family.”

Following the incident, Smith, 64, was arrested by Northport P.D. and charged with vehicular homicide, leaving the scene of an accident and two counts of first-degree assault. He was originally charged with DUI, which led to the vehicular homicide charges.

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  • Rickey

    A person pleades “Not Guilty” because to plead any other way, and the case would be OVER, practically from the start! Pleading Not Guilty doesn’t mean he is not actually quilty. Pleading Not Guilty means he wants a court of law to have to prove that he is guilty. This will be the job of a jury. I’m curious to read that the gentleman was originally charged with DUI but apparently now he is not. Apparently he did not test intoxicated by standards of law? There is absolutely no excuse for him to leave the scene and I suspect that some medical cause will be his defense (his lawyer will decide the defense strategy). It will be a tough, long drug out, and exhausting process and while the attorneys will certainly benefit financially regardless of who wins or looses, I applaude the Burks family for fighting the good fight and doing what is right to bring justice for their little girl. Keep us posted on this story, please.

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    • justinaverette

      DUI is one of the reasons a vehicular homicide charge can be brought against someone. As I understand it, a person can’t be charged with DUI and vehicular homicide.

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  • myopinion2

    “but a judge will decide which party has the right to bring the case to court”….really??? I feel as if Micah has the right as the “father”, to file a suit as well. I don’t believe the judge should get to decide on “one parent” to file a suit. Danny Smith killed an innocent child for crying out loud!!!!! Both parents should be able to file as many suits against this man as possible! He should not be walking around “scott free” (as they say) just as if he hasn’t done anything wrong! This man needs to pay DEARLY for what he has done to Haylee and the ENTIRE family! I’ve heard that the family will fight until the bitter end to make sure this man gets justice served to him!!!!!

    AND REALLY DANNY,,,WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO PLEAD “NOT GUILTY” ABOUT??? YOU KILLED SOMEBODY!!!!!!!….KILLED SOMEBODY AND INJURED 3 OTHER PEOPLE!!!!! WHAT PART OF “KILLED SOMEBODY” DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND???? You and your stupid lawyer “Bob Prince” sound pathetic on National TV saying it’s not against the freakin law to drink and drive!! WAKE UP MR. PRINCE BE/C YOU SOUND SO IGNORANT AS A LAWYER, BY MAKING THAT STATEMENT! I WOULDN’T HIRE YOU TO DEFEND MY DOG, BY MAKING THOSE KIND OF UNTRUE REMARKS! Apparently you don’t know the law in the state of Alabama!!! You need to go back to law school or just get out of Law period! Mr. Prince, if you had a family member get killed by a drunk driver, then you would know how wrong you are and how stupid you sound by defending someone who did!!

    And no I don’t think that Danny Smith is heartbroken about what he did! If he had any remorse whatsoever, how could he simply “walk away” from the victims on the ground and get back in his truck and proceed to leave???? Answer that Mr. Prince, and I’m looking forward to your stupid explanation! And I don’t believe the “medical” condition excuse either! Blow that smoke up somebody elses butt, be/c that’s crap too!! If he had a “medical” condition, then he don’t need to be “sipping” on alcohol mixed with any type of medication! He don’t even need to be driving with a medical condition, if it causes him to run off the road and kill people!! Even an idiot knows that!!! So if Mr. Smith is a “wealthy business man”, then he should have enough sense to know not to mix medicine with alcohol and then get behind the wheel to drive!DUH!! He’s 64 years old, and he does know better! I hope the jury finds him guilty on every account and he never, ever sees the light of day from his jail cell, for the rest of his heartless life!! That’s exactly what he deserves!

    IF, just IF, he doesn’t get a justice sentence worth anything, then he better make sure he makes things right with God, or he will be busting the pits of HELL wide open! Mr. Prince wil be right along behind him, IF he doesn’t make things right with God either.So either way, Mr. Smith will pay for what he has done, be/c there will be a Judgement Day that he stands before God, to give him his sentence, IF, he didn’t make things right and ask for forgiveness for what he did! I definitely trust God that he will make sure that justice is served here on earth for Haylee and the family! Below is a Bible verse to prove God’s word.

    He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He.
    Deuteronomy 32:3-5

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