By Logan Smith

ASPEN, Colo. (CBS4) — A lawsuit filed earlier this week in Pitkin County Court seeks compensation for injuries after an unlicensed teenage driver got behind the wheel of Tesla and crashed in November of 2018. Four teenage passengers were injured.

Basalt resident India Cardamone, now 21, was one of those teenage passengers.

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Cardamone’s attorney, Daniel Becnel, told CBS4 on Saturday he knows of planned litigation from attorneys representing the Tesla’s other passengers. All of those in the car were Aspen High School students at the time of the accident, according to the complaint.

(credit: Craig Turpin/Rising Sun Photography)

Becnel claims Joseph Lipsey IV drove along “at speeds in excess of 90 mph on a dark, unlit, curvy, two-lane mountain road” while he did not have a valid driver’s license, as stated in the lawsuit’s complaint.

Lipsey ignored his passengers’ pleas “asking him to slow down,” the complaint reads.

(credit: Craig Turpin/Rising Sun Photography)

The Tesla slid off a curve, struck a tree, and landed in the bed of Maroon Creek. Cardamone, according to the complaint, lost consciousness during the crash, but later pulled herself from the wreckage.

The lawsuit claims Cardamone suffered a traumatic brain injury, spine and neck injuries, and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

(credit: Craig Turpin/Rising Sun Photography)

The lawsuit also names Lipsey’s parents, Joseph Lipsey III and Shira Lipsey, as defendants. It asks the court to find the parents partly liable for the accident because of their alleged permissive history with their son. The complaint claims the parents purchased the Tesla for their son before he earned a driver’s permit and allowed him to drive it without a valid license, including to and from school.

The complaint also claims the parents “actively and intentionally encouraged their children and other teenagers to break the law” by providing alcohol to underage drinkers at parties at their residence.

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Online criminal records show the Tesla driver’s 59-year-old father in fact faced 11 counts of Contributing to Delinquency to a Minor following his arrest in March 2019. The case was not resolved until this past July when John Lipsey III was sentenced to one day in jail, 200 hours of community service and one year of probation.

Online criminal records also show the Tesla’s driver, Joseph Lipsey IV, was initially cited with Careless Driving and Driving Without a License by the Colorado State Patrol following the crash. However, the Pitkin County District Attorney stepped in with newly-created felony charges of Vehicular Assault in 2019 following the younger Lipsey’s arrest on drug and alcohol charges. The two cases were combined, and Joseph Lipsey IV was sentenced to 250 community service and two years probation.

Cardamone’s attorney, Becnel, told the Aspen Daily News the civil proceedings can commence now that the criminal cases have reached their conclusions.

“This case has dragged on for three years,” Becnel said by phone Friday. “All of the individuals who were injured have suffered emotionally, physically and psychologically as a result of the delay. Now we look to bring our clients’ cases before the courts so they can be compensated.”

(credit: Craig Turpin/Rising Sun Photography)

Yale Galanter, an criminal defense attorney representing the Lipsey family, told CBS4 he, too, expects additional litigation from other passengers.

However, he interpreted the inclusion of the individual Lipsey family members as defendants as a step too far.

“This is an insurance company issue,” Galanter said. “For some reason, the insurance company is unwilling to settle these. People sue all the time for automobile accidents. That’s why people get insurance. The insurance company has been giving the plaintiffs the runaround. The Lipseys really stand with them.”

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Logan Smith