The daughter of Gloria Jean Grimsley recently filed a motion to join the wrongful death lawsuit against a truck driver and the Fresno, California-based trucking company he drove for. 

Amanda May, 36, of Whitesville, Kentucky, filed the motion to intervene in the lawsuit against Lala Trucking Inc. on Monday. Grimsley, who was known by her clown name, Daisy Mae, was part of a magic duo with Spangle The Clown. May’s motion in Grimsley’s case comes two weeks after the civil suit, filed by Grimsley’s partner, Spangle The Clown, was transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri in December.

The wrongful death case, originally filed by Spangle The Clown, formerly known as Ronald Poindexter before changing his legal name over 20 years ago, was first filed in Greene County, Missouri, in October 2022. Besides their magic act, he and Grimsley also posed as Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus every year around Christmas.

According to court filings, Spangle filed suit two months after May, Grimsley’s adopted daughter, was appointed the personal representative of her mother’s estate by the probate division in the same county.

What happened?

Around 5:15 a.m. CDT on March 23, Grimsley, 65, of Greene County, Missouri, was driving a 2000 Pontiac Montana on U.S. Highway 65, 5 miles north of Springfield, when her vehicle was struck by a 2016 Freightliner Cascadia driven by Baljinder Singh, an independent contractor for Lala Trucking. 

Grimsley was pronounced dead at an area hospital in Springfield.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s SAFER website, Lala Trucking operates four trucks and has six drivers. The company, which hauls fresh produce, meat and other refrigerated foods, was founded by Varinder Singh in 2019, according to business documents filed with the California Secretary of State’s office. 

An investigation conducted by the Missouri Department of Transportation two days after Grimsley’s death cited Baljinder Singh and Lala Trucking for failure to yield right of way, an unsafe driving violation, and a false report of the driver’s record of duty status, an hours-of-service violation. 

Baljinder Singh and Lala Trucking were also hit with two vehicle maintenance violations stemming from the fatal crash, including an automatic airbrake adjustment system that failed to compensate for wear and a clamp or roto-type brake that was out of adjustment on the truck. 

Rightful beneficiary?

In the memorandum in support of May’s motion to intervene, she claims that despite Grimsley’s partner, Spangle The Clown, filing the initial wrongful death lawsuit, she was appointed the executor of her mother’s estate and is “the only appropriate Class I beneficiary of Gloria Grimsley.”

Alex Wolff, May’s attorney, told FreightWaves on Friday that he’s “not at liberty to discuss the case at this time.”

In court documents, Spangle The Clown refers to Grimsley as his wife. However, the two never married, but he states he was her common-law husband “pursuant to the laws of the state of Texas.” It’s unclear whether the couple lived in Texas before moving to Missouri.

Matthew Placzek, Spangle The Clown’s attorney, did not respond to FreightWaves’ requests seeking comment. Neither did Timothy Dugan, Baljinder Singh’s attorney. Dugan’s firm, Cassiday Schade LLP, also represents Lala Trucking.

In his lawsuit, Spangle seeks damages exceeding the trucking company’s minimum insurance policy of $750,000, while May is seeking monetary damages in excess of $75,000 against Lala Trucking.

The proposed scheduling order in the wrongful death suit is due by Feb. 3.

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