The family of Nicholas Grass ’05, who was killed along with three other students in a car accident Jan. 17, is suing the driver of the tractor-trailer that the students’ vehicle struck as well as the trucking company, an attorney representing the family said Wednesday.
New Haven attorney Joel Faxon said he will sue Arrow Trucking and Armando Salgado, the driver of the truck, for wrongful death in the incident. Lawsuits from other victims of the crash may be forthcoming.
Nine students were returning from a Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) fraternity event in New York City Jan. 17, when their vehicle collided with a jackknifed tractor-trailer. Grass was killed in the crash along with Kyle Burnat ’05, Andrew Dwyer ’05 and Sean Fenton ’04. The five other students received minor to serious injuries in the accident.
A preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board indicated that Salgado had seen flares on the road from another accident earlier in the day and had panicked, causing him to lose control of the tractor-trailer.
“I’m pretty confident that no jury is going to find it appropriate for a driver to panic and lose control of a rig that size,” Faxon said.
Stephen Fogerty, the attorney representing Arrow Trucking and Salgado, said it is best to wait for the final report, set to be released by the NTSB next year, before placing blame.
“We do not believe that this accident is the responsibility of Arrow Trucking and we believe that the NTSB and the Connecticut State Police, when they complete their investigation, will support that position,” Fogerty said.
Faxon said he may seek damages from other parties but had not discussed further lawsuits with Grass’ family. He said he has been in contact with Robert Adelman, the attorney representing the Fenton family, and Larry Yancey, representing Zachery Bradley ’05, a survivor of the crash.
Yancey said he would make a decision about possible lawsuits by the end of the year.
“We’re still in our assessment phase,” Yancey said. “We are looking at all avenues for recovery.”
Yancey said lawsuits against Arrow Trucking and Salgado were possible. He also mentioned a potential suit against the contractor who accidentally knocked out a number of lights near the scene of the accident before the crash.
Bradley, who has not returned to campus this semester, suffered a broken arm and jaw in the accident, according to the NTSB report.
Fogerty said Arrow Trucking has offered its condolences to the families of the students who died in the crash.
“We have communicated through counsel to the individuals who survived the crash that if they are in need of anything to help them recover from the accident that we would do whatever we could to help them,” Fogerty said.
Fogerty said he expected further lawsuits to be filed against a number of other parties who may have been involved in causing the accident, as well as suits against the state of Connecticut, Yale University and DKE.
In Connecticut, the plaintiff in a wrongful death case does not seek specified damages, Fogerty said. Faxon said he may also seek punitive damages against the tractor-trailer driver for reckless operation of his vehicle.