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Two injured by New Jersey text-messaging driver settle lawsuit

A couple who each lost a leg when their motorcycle was struck by a teenager who was driving and texting have settled their lawsuit against him for $500,000, their lawyer says.

The settlement amount for David and Linda Kubert equals the maximum payment driver Kyle Best's insurance would cover, lawyer Stephen Weinstein told Parsippany's Daily Record newspaper.

David Kubert had his left leg torn off above the knee in the September 2009 wreck in New Jersey. His wife later had her left leg amputated.

The couple, who now live in Florida, are struggling financially because he can't work and she hasn't returned to her job, their lawyer said Monday in announcing the settlement.

The couple still plan to appeal a judge's ruling that Best's girlfriend, who had sent him the text message to which he was replying, can't be held liable for the crash, the lawyer said.

Weinstein has argued, in what is believed to be the first case of its kind in the country, that text messages Shannon Colonna sent to Best played a role in the crash. He said Colonna should have known Best was driving and texting her at the time. He argued that while Colonna was not physically present at the wreck, she was "electronically present," and he asked for a jury to decide Colonna's liability in the case.

Colonna's lawyer, though, argued she had no control over when or how Best would read and respond to the message. And Colonna testified at a deposition she didn't know Best was driving at the time.

Best has pleaded guilty to distracted driving, admitting he was using his cellphone and acknowledging a series of text messages he exchanged with Colonna around the time of the accident. Records show Best responded to a text from Colonna seconds before calling emergency services.

Best was ordered to speak to 14 high schools about the dangers of texting and driving and had to pay about $775 in fines, but his driver's license was not suspended.