By JESSIE HORTON
Not only will Alisa Prueitt, 43 and a former nurse’s aide at Hamilton Healthcare Center, be serving an 18-year sentence in the Texas State Prison in Marlin after pleading guilty to intoxication manslaughter, but she’ll also have to pay 35 percent of a $16.7 million lawsuit judgement awarded by a Tarrant County jury to Samuel Dale Graham’s wife, two children and his parents. The other 65 percent will be paid by her former employer, Senior Living Properties – the company that owns Hamilton Healthcare Center, who was also named in the suit filed by Graham’s family.
Both the lawsuit and criminal sentence stem from a crash in 2013 involving Prueitt and Graham. According to traffic records, Sharla Graham, 35, was seriously injured when Prueitt’s vehicle crashed into the Grahams’ vehicle on State Highway 36, four miles north of Gatesville. Both the Grahams’ children suffered injuries as well when the car rolled five times during the crash. Samuel Dale Graham, 37, was killed.
Prueitt, a nurse’s aide at Hamilton Healthcare Center at the time of the accident, was reportedly sent home from work in Hamilton that day, though the reason she left early was a point of contention during the seven-day long trial in Fort Worth. According to court documents, nursing home supervisors told investigators after the accident they sent Pruiett home because she was “unfocused,” while the Grahams’ attorneys argued that she was sent home for being drunk. Her blood-alcohol level was four times the legal limit following the wreck.
With that fact undeniable, the focus shifted to what time Prueitt left work that fateful day. Those same supervisors said Prueitt left the nursing home at 3 p.m., which would have given her plenty of time to drink elsewhere. However, the Graham family attorneys introduced evidence during the trial that showed Prueitt made a call from the nursing home at 3:48 p.m. The wreck happened exactly 22 minutes and 24 miles later.
Pruiett’s previous history includes a DWI conviction in 1998, but as first reported on WacoTrib.com, Dale D. Williams, Graham family attorney, said Prueitt “falsified her application to the nursing home. The company caught the lie during a background check, but hired her nonetheless.”
The jury agreed with Williams and Lisa Brown, who also represented the Grahams, awarding the family $16.7 million, including $5 million in punitive damages.