Attorneys for Tina Koster and David Michael Williams have informed Rappahannock Circuit Court Judge Jeffery W. Parker that they have reached a settlement in the wrongful death suit brought by Koster following the 2016 death of her daughter, Brittney Koster.
The settlement closes a sad chapter in a tragic story in which the lives of two families were irreparably changed in the split second it takes to fire a handgun.
On Dec. 15, 2015, Brittney was accidently slain by Williams as the couple played around in the basement of his parents’ house.
Williams, unfamiliar with firearms, thought he had cleared the chamber before pointing the gun at Brittney as a joke.
On Jan. 24, 2017, Williams, 24 at the time and a resident of Chester Gap, was formally sentenced in Rappahannock County Circuit Court for involuntary manslaughter in Brittney’s death, as well as for reckless handling of a firearm.
He is currently serving out a seven year sentence at Coffeewood Correctional Center in Culpeper County.
After the criminal proceeding in Rappahannock County, Brittney’s mother, Tina, sued Williams in Warren County Circuit Court, charging wrongful death. A wrongful death suit is a civil proceeding usually brought by the victim’s surviving family members seeking compensation for such things as lost wages, lost companionship, or funeral expenses.
Koster’s suit sought $4 million in compensatory damages and $500,000 in punitive damages. The suit also asked for a jury trial. Brittney was 25 when she died.
Since the time the suit was filed, it was moved to Rappahannock County Circuit and the request for a jury trial was dropped as the parties settled.
On Nov. 11, 2018, Tina Koster petitioned the court to approve the settlement agreement.
“In consideration of the perceived merits of the case, the financial standing of the parties, the limitations of the various insurance available, the pending insurance coverage declaratory judgement action, the costs and uncertainties of litigation, and the inherent delay attendant to the litigation process, the parties have agreed to settle all claims,” reads the filing.
“Specifically, the parties have agreed that, upon approval by the Court and in exchange for the full and unlimited claims against him, David Michael Williams, through his respective liability insurer, will pay or cause to be paid the aggregate sum of $60,000.”
The settlement agreement named several of Brittney’s beneficiaries, including a 12-year-old brother. Judge Parker insisted the brother be represented by a guardian ad litem, a person appointed by the court to represent the best interests of a minor.