Default judgment awarded to parents of teen killed in 2014 crash

Driver Ryan Swadner convicted last year of vehicular homicide
Tim Ryan

SHAWANO — The parents of one of the teens killed in a 2014 crash that also took the lives of two others were awarded a $500,000 default judgment Thursday in a wrongful death suit against the driver of the car and his parents.

The suit was filed by the parents of 17-year-old Cody Borsche, one of the passengers in a vehicle driven by Ryan Swadner, who was convicted last year of three counts of vehicular homicide and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Swadner was also accused of being under the influence of marijuana on Oct. 21, 2014, when he swerved to avoid another vehicle stopped in his path on state Highway 22 in the town of Belle Plaine and lost control on a gravel shoulder.

The Ford Mustang he was driving crossed into the path of an oncoming sport utility vehicle and was hit broadside, according to the accident report.

Two Shawano Community High School seniors, Borsche and 18-year-old Tyler Welch, were pronounced dead at the scene. A Bonduel High School sophomore, 15-year-old Paige Brunette, was transported to Shawano Medical Center for medical attention and later died.

The civil suit filed by Wayne and Wanda Borsche alleged the crash was the result of Swadner’s negligence.

The suit also names Swadner’s mother, Shannon Broder, and stepfather, Robert Broder, as defendants.

The suit maintained that Robert Broder sponsored Swadner’s driver’s license application and is liable for any damages caused by Swadner’s negligent operation of a motor vehicle.

Attorney Craig Mares, the attorney for the Borsches, noted in court Thursday that Broder had signed a Department of Motor Vehicles document taking financial responsibility for Swadner.

Shawano-Menominee County Circuit Court Judge William Kussel Jr., issued a default judgment against Swadner on Aug. 7 because Swadner had not responded to the legal action.

Thursday’s hearing was intended to be a court trial for the remaining defendants, Shannon and Robert Broder, but they did not attend the hearing or have any legal counsel present.

The court heard testimony from Cody Borsche’s mother, Wanda, who told of the psychiatric care and grief counseling that followed her son’s death.

“Even grief counseling in a way isn’t working because I’m so empty inside,” she said.

Kussel ruled that because the Broders had ample notice and did not seem to be contesting the suit a default judgment would be awarded against them as well.

The judgment awards the Borches $500,000 in punitive damages.