Paavo Ogren named in drunk driving lawsuit
March 19, 2012
By KAREN VELIE
San Luis Obispo County Public Works Director Paavo Ogren is being sued for allegedly allowing his son to drive a vehicle he owned, knowing the teenager had a problem with drugs and alcohol abuse.
On June 16, Kirk Ogren drove his dad’s SUV off the road and onto the sidewalk along San Luis Drive, rolled the vehicle down a 20-foot embankment and into a creek near California Boulevard. Four teenagers were in the car and their injuries included broken bones, abrasions and large gashes.
Kirk Ogren was subsequently found guilty of felony drunk driving causing great bodily harm.
In the lawsuit filed last week, attorney Jeffrey Stulberg claims that Paavo Ogren lent his teenage son his SUV to chauffeur underage friends, knowing his son regularly drank alcohol and did drugs. Emma Schumann, plaintiff in the action, suffered a broken arm and a large gash to her back which required numerous stitches.
“Thus, the entrustment of the vehicle by Paavo Ogren was negligent in that he knew, or should have known, that said such entrustment created a substantial risk of harm to third parties,” the lawsuit says. “As a direct result of the negligence and carelessness of the defendant, plaintiff has suffered bodily injuries, great physical pain, mental anguish, shock and sever emotional distress.”
Several parents of local teens contend Ogren’s home was a frequent after school “party house.” One parent of a teen who was in the accident said the teens were found partying after school at Ogren’s home on several occasions.
In the 2010 divorce filings of Paavo Ogren’s girlfriend Maria Kelly, a former Los Osos Community Services District director and the current office manager of EcoSlo, her ex-husband Shaun Kelly requested full custody of their three children because of allegations that Paavo Ogren, Maria Kelly, and both of their eldest sons used drugs.
Shaun Kelly said in the suit that Paavo Ogren and Maria Kelly were aware of Ogren’s son’s use of methamphetamine, cocaine and ecstasy because of several drug tests, including a school test of the teen which resulted in his expulsion from school, according to court records.
Shaun Kelly has alleged that this use is allowed, if not condoned, when the children are staying with Maria Kelly and at the Ogren house.
He writes in the documents, “(Maria) and I have different approaches to this serious issue. She has a much more permissive style ― telling me that they should not use drugs at school but to confine their use of drugs to the weekends.”
The document goes on to say that the eldest Kelly son justified such behavior by saying, “He knows of professional adults who use drugs and are successful.”
Additionally, the filings cite several text messages sent between the eldest Kelly child and a friend which suggest their son has reason to believe both Maria Kelly and Ogren use marijuana [several spelling errors corrected]:
Son: “I am pretty sure Maria smokes weed though.”
Friend: “No fucking way! That’s the greatest thing I have ever heard.”
Son: “That’s why she definitely smokes weed. Why else would she buy king-sized joints for Paavo to smoke by himself? I think not.”
Maria Kelly responded by blocking Shaun Kelly’s access to their children’s text messages, court documents say.
The Kelly’s oldest son was in the SUV on the day Kirk Ogren crashed the vehicle down the embankment and into San Luis creek.
Stulberg is seeking unspecified damages contending the alleged negligence of both Paavo and Kirk Ogren led to his clients physical and emotional injuries.