First lawsuit filed in horrific New York limo accident that killed 20
ALBANY – The operators of a limousine that crashed and killed 20 people in upstate New York last month “acted with reckless indifference to the health and safety of others,” a lawsuit Monday contended.
The lawsuit filed by the parents of one of the victims, Amanda Rivenburg, was the first civil case brought in the horrific accident Oct. 6 on a rural road in Schoharie outside Albany.
Seventeen passengers in the limousine owned by Prestige Limousine were killed when the vehicle crashed into an embankment in the afternoon as the friends and family members were on their way to a brewery in Cooperstown to celebrate a 30th birthday.
The driver and two bystanders where the limo crashed were also killed in the accident, which was the deadliest transportation accident in the U.S. in nine years.
The defendants “intentionally failed to act knowing that their conduct will probably result in injury and/or death,” the lawsuit, filed in state Supreme Court in Albany, contends.
The lawsuit is important to start to allow lawyers to investigate the circumstances of the crash, the lawyer for the Rivenburgs, whose daughter was 29, said.
In particular, there are questions not only about Prestige Limousine’s actions, but about the state’s potential role, including whether the intersection where the crash occurred was safe, said Salvatore Ferlazzo, the family’s attorney.
“We’re doing an investigation to see the role of the state of New York and the way this road was designed and constructed,” Ferlazzo said.
More: Limo in deadly New York crash ‘should have been in the scrapyard’: AC didn’t work; it had painted duct tape
More: Safety of intersection called into question after deadly N.Y. limo crash
More: Limo in fatal New York crash failed inspection; driver lacked ‘appropriate’ license: Cuomo
“And we would like to have the subpoena power when you file a suit to make sure we can preserve evidence and preserve the items that are part of the criminal process.”
The defendants in the lawsuit are Shahed Hussain, the owner of Prestige Limousine, and his son, Nauman Hussain, who was charged days after the crash with one count of criminally negligent homicide.
The company’s attorneys at the Wilson Elser law firm declined comment.
The lawsuit doesn’t say what monetary amount is being sought, and if a suit is brought against the state, that would need to be a separate action in the Court of Claims, Ferlazzo said.
The investigation by State Police and the National Highway Safety Board is continuing into the crash.
Records have showed that the limousine failed two state inspections, in March and again in September.
After a Sept. 4 failed inspection, the state affixed a sticker taking the vehicle out of service, the state Department of Transportation said.
But the limo was still operating.