Motorcyclist's family settles with bus company in fatal crash
The family of a motorcyclist who was killed when his bike collided with a New Milford school bus in 2012 has reached a $1.3 million settlement with the bus company.
According to a police report, the New Milford resident was headed west on Pickett District Road when he collided with the eastbound school bus driven by Alicia Gardos.
Gardos was making a left turn into a parking lot across from the playground near John Pettibone School at the time of the accident.
A year after Lipton's death, his family filed a civil suit against All-Star Transportation and Gardos, claiming the New Milford High graduate's death was caused by the bus driver's "carelessness and negligence," according to court records.
"As a result of the accident and the carelessness and negligence of the defendant driver, the decedent was violently hurled to the pavement, causing him to sustain and suffer massive head trauma, multiple fractures to both legs; and fractured left arm," according to a complaint written by Lipton's family attorney, Richard Arconti.
In May 2014, the case went to mediation, where All-Star Transportation's insurance company offered a $1 million settlement, Arconti said. However, he and the Lipton family didn't believe it was a fair assessment and rejected the offer.
After further negotiations, the sides reached the $1.3 million settlement last August, Arconti said.
"The family was a part of the settlement discussions all along and are relieved it is all over," Arconti said.
The New Milford Police Department conducted its own investigation of the fatal accident. Police determined both drivers were negligent, due to a combination of Gardos' unsafe turn and Lipton's speed, Arconti said.
According to court records, Michael Cei testified on behalf of the plaintiff.
Cei said the New Milford Police Department's findings were flawed because, even if Lipton was traveling fast, he would have been in Gardos' view for at least nine seconds.
However, since there was no jury trial, there were no conclusive findings.
Following the police department's investigation, a judge denied its request for an arrest warrant for Gardos, citing both drivers were at fault.
Gardos no longer works for All-Star Transportation.
"It's an age-old lesson," Arconti said. "All drivers, even school bus drivers, need to be aware that motorcycles are out on the streets."
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