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BOW / Concord

Man sues driver, employers in crash

28-year-old’s father killed in collision

A 28-year-old man who witnessed his father die three years ago after the two were thrown from a motorcycle in Bow is now suing the driver who caused the accident and the companies that employed him.

In a three-count suit filed this month in U.S. District Court in Concord, the Office of Public Guardian, on behalf of Mark Hinton Jr., contends that the driver, Raymond Barnard, acted negligently by “making an illegal and unsafe left turn directly in front of the Hinton motorcycle, which had the right of way.”

Hinton, who has been under guardianship since 2008 because of a mental disability, seeks $175,000 for medical expenses, lost income, emotional distress and lingering physical impacts from the accident.

The suit also alleges Barnard’s employer at the time, North American Industrial Services, and its parent company, North American Services Group LLC, both of which deal in industrial maintenance, did not adequately vet and train him for driving duties related to his job.

Neither Barnard, a resident of Auburn, Maine, nor the companies, which are based in Maine and New York, could be reached for comment.

At the time of the accident, according to the suit, Barnard was driving a company pickup south on South Street. Hinton and his father, Mark Hinton Sr., were heading north. The pickup turned left, crossing into the Hintons’ lane. Hinton Sr., who was driving the motorcycle, could not brake in time and the cycle went down as a result. Barnard was not injured. Hinton Jr. was treated for minor injuries and later released from the hospital. Hinton Sr. died at the scene.

Hinton’s lawyer, Peter Hutchins, said his client works out often – he described him as a “physical specimen” – but still deals with back and shoulder pain related to the accident.

The bigger issue, said his mother, Rosemary Hinton, is the emotional damage.

“It’s been obviously traumatic for him,” she said, noting that her son and husband had been close. “Everybody grieves in their own place and time, and I think (Mark is) still dealing with it.”

Hinton didn’t respond to a request for comment, but his mother noted potential signs of distress, such as his aversion to reading quotes from his father and inability to ride a motorcycle since the accident.

“I haven’t driven mine either,” she said.

Hutchins said proving what emotional symptoms resulted from the accident may be difficult, given Hinton’s disability, which he would not disclose, though he said it leaves him at times detached and uncommunicative.

“It’s very difficult for him to express himself,” Hutchins said.

The suit, filed four days before a three-year statute of limitations expired, accuses Barnard’s employer and its parent company of “vicarious liability,” stating they “owed the plaintiff a duty to exercise reasonable care in the hiring, training, supervision and retention of their employees, including defendant Barnard.”

Hinton grew up in Bow, where his father, an Air Force veteran, worked as an investigator for the New Hampshire Liquor Commission. He eventually moved to Concord.

Hinton Sr., a 59-year-old father of four, retired from the Liquor Commission the month before the accident. He was active in the Hooksett chapter of The American Legion, and raised money for the Fisher House in Boston, where family members of injured veterans can stay during treatment, and for scholarships to benefit children of deceased service members.

Rosemary Hinton said her husband loved Christmas and knew a great deal about many things.

“He was my best friend,” she said.

She expressed some reservation about the lawsuit, questioning whether it would do more good than harm in helping the family, including three children besides Hinton Jr., move forward.

“It’s not even about the lawsuit,” she said. “It’s more about the loss.”

The Office of Public Guardian did not provide details of its role in the suit or Hinton’s life, but, in general, the organization provides assistance and advocacy for individuals who cannot legally care for themselves, and is often appointed through a probate court. Besides securing basic goods and services for its wards, the office oversees medical and legal decisions.

(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319,
jblackman@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)

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