Press conference details $10 million settlement in Lions Water Adventure Park accident
Taft, Taft and Haigler lawyer Ken Haigler, holding paper, delivers a speech Tuesday at the Lenoir County Courthouse about the settlement for Jaekwon Williams with partner Tom Taft standing next to him. Williams' mother, Jasmine, stands behind her son, who suffered permanent brain damage from nearly drowning at the Lions Adventure Water Park four years ago. Joining Williams is, from left, sisters Susie and Ashley, along with brothers Melvin and LaDarian.
Photo: Junious Smith
The final chapter of a tragic case was delivered Tuesday.
The family of Jaekwon Williams, along with lawyers Tom Taft and Ken Haigler from the Taft, Taft and Haigler law firm in Greenville, stood on the steps of the Lenoir County Courthouse to speak about the settlement that had been previously agreed to by the City of Kinston and the Williams family.
On Aug. 11, 2014, Williams — who was 9 at the time — was part of a group from the Rocky Mount Williford Summer Camp visiting the Lions Water Adventure Park. Williams, who couldn’t swim according to his mother, Jasmine Williams, was later found unconscious in the bottom of a 7-foot deep lap pool during the trip and rushed to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville. Williams survived, but the injuries have prevented him from being able to walk or talk.
Kinston City Manager Tony Sears said the city settled with the Williams family for $10 million, the money coming strictly from the city’s insurance carrier. The Woodmen Foundation also settled with the Williams family for a figure which could not be disclosed due to confidentiality purposes.
“This was a very tragic situation for Jaekwon and his family,” Sears said. “We hope the settlement offers some type of assistance moving forward and it is the city’s focus to do our best to prevent these types of instances in the future.”
Haigler and Taft each made statements at the press conference, both expressing the family’s mixed emotions.
“No amount of money in the world can replace what’s happened to (Jaekwon) and the condition he currently finds himself in,” Haigler said. “However, what has happened here, as agreed to by all parties, is fair, just, equitable and reasonable."
Taft said there will be no issues toward the care of Jaekwon Williams, who needs around-the-clock treatment.
“The most important information we can give you today is that this settlement will take care of Jaekwon’s needs — medical and otherwise — for the remainder of his life,” Taft said. “It’s important to know that almost all of the net proceeds of this settlement are deposited into a special needs trust for the benefit of Jaekwon, and administered by a corporate fiduciary, who manages the funds and the dispersement of the expenses for his care, medical care and daily life needs for the remainder of his life."