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Closure could come this week for family that lost seven in drunk driving crash

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GREENSBURG - A man already serving 35 years for driving drunk and killing seven people in 2012 could face another trial this week in a civil case.

The crash in Slaughter in May of 2012 left seven people dead. Surviving family members of the crash victims filed suit against Brett Gerald's insurance policy. It carries a payout of $300,000. If a settlement isn't reached before Wednesday, a trial will begin.

John Gaines Jr. said he still has anguish thinking about what happened to his loved ones.

"It's been six years, and it's taken a toll on me," Gaines Jr. said. "I have sleepless nights. I'm out of work...took a lot of time off of work, and it has affected each of my family members in different ways."

Inside the St. Helena Parish courthouse Monday attorneys tried to strike up a deal to put the longstanding lawsuit against Brett Gerald to bed. Gerald's attorney is working for the insurance company that Gerald had. He declined to comment but said he was hopeful that a deal was close. Gerald's policy carried a $300,000 payout which would need to be split seven ways.

When Gerald caused the May 2012 crash, it was not his first DWI. Joel Porter is representing the family and believes changes need to result from this case so victims' families can be made whole in the future. Porter said he is willing to talk to legislators in hopes of changing laws that would mandate extra insurance coverage for drivers convicted of driving while intoxicated.

"We change it by having legislators promulgate legislation that will address these situations by placing a limit on the policy of an individual convicted of DWI that is required to have," Porter said.

The family said they will likely get pennies for their loss. Attorneys are taking the lion's share. They are also pushing for changes so no one has to deal with the pain they've encountered.

"We are going to push this thing, to push this forward in legislation so we can help someone else that this happens to later on," Gaines Jr. said.

Gerald was convicted in East Feliciana Parish on the criminal charges. The civil case is being handled in St. Helena Parish because that's where Gerald lived.


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