LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Olympic champion and reality television star Bruce Jenner was sued for negligence and wrongful death on Friday by relatives of a woman killed in a car crash involving the former athlete on a Southern California highway in February.
The complaint was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court by two stepchildren of Kimberly Howe, who died in the Feb. 7 collision on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu that sheriff’s deputies said had left five other people injured.
The lawsuit claims Jenner was driving his Cadillac Escalade, towing a trailer with an off-road vehicle, when he struck Howe’s car from the rear, propelling her automobile into oncoming traffic, and she collided head-on with another vehicle.
According to the suit, Jenner “violated the rules of the road” and was “negligent, careless and reckless” in causing the wreck, though the six-page complaint did not specify how Jenner was alleged to have been at fault. By contrast, Howe was “acting with due caution, attention and care” and did not contribute to the crash, the suit said.
Jenner’s publicist, Alan Nierob, declined comment on the case.
The wrongful death claim seeks unspecified damages for the personal loss of Howe and her financial support to her stepdaughter, Dana Redmond, and stepson William Howe.
Kimberly Howe’s obituary said she and her deceased husband of 32 years ran a national health food business, and that she previously played bit parts in several Elvis Presley movies.
The suit came one week after Jenner declared in a nationally televised interview that he identifies as a woman, becoming the most high-profile American to come out as transgender. Nierob, however, has said Jenner still prefers to be referred to with male pronouns.
Jenner, 65, rose to fame with a record-breaking Olympic gold medal victory in the decathalon in the 1976 Summer Games in Montreal that earned him the unofficial title of “World’s Greatest Athlete.”
Known to younger generations as the patriarch of reality TV’s Kardashian clan, Jenner appeared on ABC’s “20/20” last Friday to put to rest months of speculation that he was transitioning to life as a woman.
The interview was conducted days before the Malibu crash. ABC’s Diane Sawyer said during the broadcast that Jenner was unable to comment on the wreck but told ABC of the tragedy, “I was devastated.”
Jenner escaped serious injury in the crash, having declined medical treatment at the scene, authorities said.
The accident remains under investigation by police.
Reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Sandra Maler