AUGUSTA — A widower who sued a construction company after his wife died following a motorcycle crash in the city has settled his claims.

Jared Nightingale, of Pittston, had maintained that R.J. Grondin & Sons, the contractor working on the Western Avenue project, failed to inspect and repair a dangerous pothole that caused his wife’s motorcycle to crash on July 6, 2014. Karen Nightingale was 53 when she died of injuries nine days later at Central Maine Medical Center.

Jared Nightingale was riding a separate motorcycle and saw his wife’s motorcycle go down. The couple had married about six weeks before the crash and were traveling with another couple to see the Manchester home the Nightingales were about to buy.

The initial lawsuit, filed two years ago by Nightingale’s attorney, Mark Dunlap, in Kennebec County Superior Court, named the state, the state Department of Transportation and the city of Augusta as defendants.

As the lawsuit made its way through various pre-trial proceedings, all the defendants except the construction firm were dismissed.

A jury trial on the claims against Grondin, which is headquartered in Gorham, was to take place later this month.


Justice Michaela Murphy previously had rejected a summary judgment request from Grondin, saying, “Here there is a question of fact as to whether Grondin was a possessor of the portion of Western Avenue on which Ms. Nightingale was injured.”

Murphy also noted that it was undisputed that the accident occurred within the boundaries of Grondin’s construction project and “there is a question of fact as to whether Grondin should have known about the pothole before the accident.”

Other riders testified in depositions to seeing a large pothole “so big there was no way you could not see it.”

Murphy was notified May 26 that the case had settled. No details about the settlement were included in the court’s file, and Grondin’s attorney, Jonathan Brogan, said there is a confidentiality agreement, so the details will not be made public. Murphy ordered attorneys to file official notice within 30 days. If not, she said the case is dismissed with prejudice, meaning it could not be brought back again.

According to the complaint, Karen Nightingale hit a pothole measured at “28 inches long, 16 inches wide, and 5-8 inches deep” with her motorcycle.

Grondin had been working in the area through July 2, 2014, on a repaving project, and the roadway was subjected to heavy rain over the next two days while work was suspended. The complaint says rain can enlarge potholes.


A filing by Brogan said, “On average 23,000 vehicles per day traveled over Western Avenue during the construction project. Despite the heavy traffic over this area, 24-hour police patrol, and the contact information for driver and riders to report problems, there is no evidence of any report or complaints about the pothole Ms. Nightingale struck prior to the accident on July 6, 2014.”

On Monday, Brogan said the parties reached an agreement to settle the remaining claims and that Grondin did not admit liability.

“It was obviously a terrible tragedy for the family, and we feel sympathy for them,” he said.

Dunlap did not return a phone message about the settlement, which was left Monday morning at his office.

Karen Nightingale, formerly Karen O’Donnell of Gardiner, had worked in law enforcement in northern Kennebec County for more than 20 years before taking a job in 2013 as a Department of Health and Human Services investigator.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

Twitter: @betadams

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