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POPLAR, Mont. and JACKSON, Wyo.July 5, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — A Poplar, Mont. tribal court jury awarded $5 million to the family of a three-year-old boy killed by a distracted driver, The Spence Law Firm and co-counsel said today.

Dwain Spotted Bird Jr.

Dwain Spotted Bird, Jr., of Poplar, Mont., died in June 2018 after he was struck and driven over by a three-quarter-ton pickup truck as he rode his bicycle outside his grandparents’ home on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation.

The family alleged that the truck driver was distracted, driving on the wrong side of the road, speeding, and that he never braked, according to the lawsuit. The driver, who worked for the Fort Peck Tribal Community College, struck the boy and then drove another 94 feet before stopping, the lawsuit alleged. The trial included evidence that the driver was friendly with several of the investigating law enforcement officers, and that the driver’s cell phone data was deleted weeks after the crash.

The six-member jury in the Fort Peck Tribal Court found that the driver’s negligence caused the death of the boy and awarded the family $3.8 million for wrongful death and $1.2 million in survival damages.

The Spotted Bird family was represented by Tyson E. Logan and Sarah A. Kellogg, of The Spence Law Firm; of Jackson, Wyo., and Terryl T. Matt, of Matt Law Offices, PLLC, of Cut Bank, Mont.

Tyson E. Logan, of The Spence Law Firm, said, “The entire community has suffered from Baby Dwain’s tragic death. The family’s loss was hard enough, but the callous defense of this case tested their courage and patience. The defense blamed the family for the boy’s death and they tried to essentially make Baby D invisible – now, he will never be forgotten. We are grateful for the jury’s service and their decision. The verdict gives the family a measure of justice and a path forward to rebuild their lives.”

The case is Dwain Spotted Bird, Sr. and J’Lanie Moran v. Noel Sansaver, Cause No. 21-6-082 in the Fort Peck Tribal Court, Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes, Fort Peck Indian Reservation, of Poplar, Montana.

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