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Police’s vehicular pursuit was too dangerous, estate alleged

At about 10 p.m. on March 12, 2008, plaintiff’s decedent T. S, 17, was a passenger of a car that was being driven by Plaintiff M.P. who was traveling on the southbound side of Johns Neck Road, near its intersection at Commack Road, in Shirley. A police officer driving a marked police cruiser, began a pursuit of Plaintiffs car. Plaintiff led the officers through winding roads in a residential neighborhood before turning back onto Johns Neck Road where his car traveled off of the roadway, struck a pole, flipped and rolled. T.S suffered a fatal injury. Defendant, who was intoxicated, was arrested. He was convicted of vehicular manslaughter.


The lawsuit alleged that officers were negligent in their pursuit of Defendant, that their negligence caused Defendant’s accident, that Suffolk Country and the Suffolk Country Police Department were vicariously liable for the actions of officers.  Defense counsel contended that the pursuit was lawful and that police protocol permits pursuits in which the police vehicle’s siren and emergency lights are not activated.


Plaintiff suffered a crush-induced fracture of her C5 vertebra, fractures of ribs and other injuries. She was placed in a helicopter, and she was transported to Stony Brook University Medical Center, in the hamlet of Stony Brook.  T.S., 17, died on March 18, 2008. She was survived by a 1-year-old son. Plaintiff-decedent’s estate sought recovery of wrongful-death damages that comprised damages for plaintiff-decedent’s pain and suffering. Plaintiff-decedent’s mother, Brenda Booker, presented a derivative claim.


After the estate’s counsel had rested his case, the parties negotiated a settlement. Suffolk County agreed to pay $1.5 million, and defendant owner insurer agreed to pay $50,000. Thus, the settlement totaled $1.55 million.