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O'Quinn aide's family files wrongful death lawsuit over crash

A wrongful death lawsuit seeking at least $7 million has been filed against the estate of Houston attorney John O’Quinn by the family of Johnny Lee Cutliff, O’Quinn’s employee who died with him in a car crash.

HOUSTON -- A wrongful death lawsuit seeking at least $7 million has been filed against the estate of Houston attorney John O Quinn by the family of Johnny Lee Cutliff, O Quinn s employee who died with him in a car crash.

The two perished on Allen Parkway in rainy weather Oct. 29. Police said O Quinn was driving between 76 and 79 mph before he slammed his Chevrolet Suburban into a tree in the 1900 block near Taft, where the speed limit is 40 mph. Neither man was wearing a seat belt.

James Cutliff, one of the late man s brothers, filed a lawsuit in probate court seeking that he be appointed administrator of his brother s estate for the purpose of suing O Quinn s estate and his corporation, Classy Classic Cars, which the lawsuit alleges owned the SUV along with many vintage autos O Quinn collected.

The lawsuit, filed in November, alleges O Quinn was grossly negligent and acted with conscious indifference and disregard for Johnny Lee Cutliff s health.

The lawsuit asks for a minimum of $6 million in actual damages for pain and suffering and the loss of 20 more years or so of life. It also asks for at least $1 million in punitive damages from the estate and the car corporation.

I certainly hope we can resolve this thing fairly and find a just settlement for Johnny and his family, said Gerald Treece, the executor of O Quinn s estate and a professor at South Texas College of Law. Treece, a longtime friend of O Quinn, said he also called Johnny Lee Cutliff a friend.

Treece said he just heard about the Cutliff family lawsuit a week or so ago.

I loved Johnny, too, and whatever the facts and law say, we need to be fair, Treece said.

Neither James Cutliff nor his lawyer could be reached for comment for this report. Another Cutliff brother reached by telephone Thursday said he had not heard about the lawsuit.

O Quinn, 68, was a recovering alcoholic but had no alcohol, stimulants or illegal drugs in his blood at the time of his death, according to a toxicology report.

Johnny Lee Cutliff, 56, who had worked for O Quinn for about 30 years and usually drove the lawyer, also had no alcohol or illicit drugs in his system either, reports show.

Police say O Quinn s car s computer data also showed O Quinn never applied the brakes.

Both men died instantly of multiple blunt force injuries, authorities said.

O Quinn and Cutliff had driven to Hobby Airport that morning, but O Quinn skipped his flight to a San Antonio mediation and instead turned around and appeared headed back to his home to get something he forgot, possibly papers, when the two died.

This story is a result of our partnership with the Houston Chronicle.

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