As tennis star Venus Williams is on the court at Wimbledon Friday, her attorneys will be in court in West Palm Beach trying to stop the family of Jerome Barson from independently inspecting his car.
The 78-year-old Barson died from injuries incurred June 9 when a Hyundai Accent driven by his wife, Linda Barson, crashed with a Toyota Sequoia driven by Williams in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, and the Barson family has since filed a wrongful death suit against the athlete.
Attorneys for Barson’s family wanted to immediately download crash data from the Hyundai, but on Wednesday, Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Cymonie Rowe granted an emergency motion by Williams’ attorneys to temporarily stop the Barson family’s attorneys.
In court records, Williams’ attorney, Kevin Yombor, said the family’s lawyers gave Williams less than 24 hours’ notice that they would be inspecting and downloading data from the car on Wednesday.
“The on-board data of both vehicles will be critical evidence. Issues have been known to arise when a vehicle's data is downloaded. These issues included, but not limited to, the unintentional loss of the data,” the court documents read, according to E! News. “For that reason, no party should be allowed to inspect the vehicles until all Parties can be present with their experts and this Court issues a procedure for collecting the vehicles’ data.”
Yombor wanted to them to wait for a judge to set guidelines for how attorneys could inspect both cars involved, but he said the family attorneys still wanted to move forward with the inspection.
The judge’s ruling, filed less than an hour after Williams’ emergency motion was made, granted a protective order that temporarily stopped the Barsons’ attorneys from conducting the inspection until the judge could consider the evidence at a hearing scheduled for Friday.
Palm Beach Gardens police say Williams, 37, was at fault in the June 9 crash that led to Barson’s death. Shortly after 1 p.m that day, the Barsons’ car collided with Williams’ SUV at Northlake Boulevard and BallenIsles Drive. Williams told police the light was green when she pulled her 2010 Toyota Sequoia out of the Steeplechase community and started crossing Northlake to go to BallenIsles, where she has a home.
Traffic had forced Williams to stop, blocking a lane, she told police.
Linda Barson, then 67, was driving west on Northlake Boulevard and told police she had a green light and drove through it when Williams cut in front of her in the intersection.
Jerome Barson suffered head injuries and was rushed to St. Mary’s Medical Center, where he died on June 22.
Williams, uninjured, was not ticketed or charged in the crash.
She has advanced to the third round of the Wimbledon tournament in London and is scheduled to play Japan’s Naomi Osaka Friday morning.