Lawsuit: Vehicle owner negligent in double-fatal crash case

Posted at 10:52 PM, May 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-23 23:52:08-04

A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed in the case of two Green Bay parents who died in a 2016 crash.

James and Wendy Rush died after a Dodge Durango going at least 55 mph in a 25 mph zone ran a stop sign and crashed into the Rushes’ Saab at Packerland and Oakwood drives on a February Friday night, according to a police report.  Daniel Boucher, then 27, was driving the Durango, according to the police report.

Boucher pleaded no contest to charges including reckless homicide and OWI in the case.  His blood alcohol the night of the crash was .206, according to a police report.  That is more than twice the legal limit.

A judge sentenced Boucher to more than 30 years in prison.

But the wrongful death lawsuit, filed by the Rushes’ two children and their parents’ estate, states that Boucher was not the only person negligent in connection with the crash.

Mary Kaminecki saw Boucher using alcohol, knew or should have known that he was intoxicated, and “directed” him to drive her vehicle, the lawsuit states.  Kaminecki owned the Durango that Boucher was driving, the police report said.  Kaminecki’s daughter was engaged to Boucher at the time of the crash, the police report said.  The three were drinking together the night of the crash, according to the police report.

Kaminecki was not charged with a crime in the case.

“Ms. Kaminecki was not charged with a criminal offense in this instance because we do not believe there would be a legal basis for such a charge in a criminal case,” Brown County District Attorney David Lasee said in an email.

A criminal case is different than a wrongful death lawsuit, which is a civil matter.

Kaminecki denies that she shares any blame for the crash.

"I absolutely did not hand him my keys and say, 'Here Dan, take my vehicle and drive it,’” Kaminecki said.

"I set my keys on the kitchen table at the house I was at, which was more than Dan and Tera there, and I said, 'Make sure my vehicle gets home because I have to work tomorrow afternoon.’"  Kaminecki left the gathering and got a ride with someone else, according to the police report.

Kaminecki, in a police recording the night of the crash, told an officer that she did not think that either Dan or Tera was drunk. 

Kaminecki told a reporter that her aim that night was to ensure that her vehicle was available to her by the next afternoon so she could get to work.

“I never gave any specific time, no timeframe, except, the next afternoon,” Kaminecki said.

Speaking generally, a Green Bay attorney said allowing a drunk person to drive one’s vehicle can have civil consequences.

"If you let somebody use your vehicle, and you know that that person has been drinking to excess, then you are taking a risk that you will be held responsible as well,” said Avi Berk, an attorney who is not connected to this case.

Boucher is also named in the wrongful death lawsuit.  His lawyers in the suit said they either could not or would not comment.  The Wisconsin Department of Corrections denied a reporter’s request to interview Boucher.