MOORHEAD - The father of two teenage boys killed in a 2015 rollover has filed a wrongful death suit against the boys' school, their basketball coach, the family's auto insurance provider and the maker of the pickup truck his son was driving.
The complaint alleges that Park Christian School in Moorhead and varsity boys basketball coach Josh Lee were negligent in letting 18-year-old Zach Kvalvog drive his 14-year-old brother, Connor, and two teammates to a tournament in Wisconsin.
The complaint also says FCA US, aka Chrysler Group, neglected to warn consumers about the faulty steering in the Dodge Ram 2500 that Zach was driving and that the company failed to develop an adequate fix for the problem.
The deadly crash happened June 23, 2015, as the Kvalvog boys were headed east on Interstate 94 near Dalton, Minn. A semi veered into Zach's lane, causing him to swerve out of the way and overcorrect, a Minnesota State Patrol crash report said.
The truck rolled into the median, ending up on the interstate's westbound lanes, a crumpled wreck with debris strewn across the road.
The brothers died in the crash. Passengers Mark Schwandt and Jimmy Morton were hospitalized, but they recovered. The suit says the crash was the result of carelessness and negligence of the "phantom semi" that left the scene.
Another defendant named in the suit is Secura Insurance, a company that insured both Kvalvog boys. The suit says the insurance policy issued to their father included uninsured motorist coverage with limits of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per crash. The suit alleges Secura has refused to pay the uninsured motorist benefits Ray Kvalvog believes he's owed.
Ray Kvalvog is seeking unspecified damages from all the defendants. Each defendant has filed a response to the suit, denying the father's claims.
In their responses, the school and coach, the automaker and the insurance company all allege that Zach Kvalvog may have been at fault in the crash.
The attorney for Lee and the school, Timothy Carrigan of Minneapolis, declined to comment Monday, Dec. 19. But Park Christian Principal Chris Nellermoe issued a statement on behalf of the school and coach.
"While we are currently in litigation, and are prohibited from speaking directly about the case, we remain deeply saddened by this tragic event," the statement said. "We have been close to this extremely difficult experience since it happened, and the whole Park Christian family - students, parents, faculty, administration, and board members - continues to grieve."
Phone messages left for Secura's attorney, William Harrie of Fargo, and FCA's attorney, Mickey Greene of Minneapolis, were not returned Monday.
On Friday, Dec. 16, Clay County District Court Judge Galen Vaa was assigned the case, which was filed late last month.
Since losing their sons, Ray and Kathie Kvalvog have been searching for any information regarding the semi or its driver. They've put up billboards, offered thousands of dollars in reward money and pushed the state patrol to release images of the semi believed to be involved.
Ray Kvalvog's attorney, Michael Bryant of Waite Park, Minn., said the wrongful death suit is part of the parents' search for answers.
"It is a case that's based upon a claim for money, but the reality is they really want to know what happened," Bryant said. "They really want their kids back. Unfortunately, that's not an option."
The patrol is still investigating the crash and has not received any new leads that would help in identifying the semi, Sgt. Jesse Grabow said Monday.
The semi could be a late '80s to mid-'90s Kenworth with an Aerodyne sleeper and a dark blue cab. Anyone with information can call Sgt. Rod Eischens at (218) 846-8244.