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Following on the heels of Ocean County's efforts to get out of a second lawsuit that claims that a guardrail that was once removed from Cedar Bridge Avenue in Lakewood is heavily to blame for a devastating traffic crash last summer, the Lakewood Housing Authority is now also fighting to get dismissed from this lawsuit.

The suit involves a fatal traffic crash that took place on the evening of July 5, 2021, on Cedarbridge Avenue at Clover Street in Lakewood.

According to the Lakewood Township Police Department report, a multi-agency investigation revealed that Dimitriy N. Kurik, a juvenile, was driving with 2 passengers - one being Volodimir Vlasyuk, a juvenile - eastbound on Cedarbridge Avenue approached the cross street of Clover Street at a high rate of speed. An unidentified vehicle was in the left-hand turn lane attempting to make a left-hand turn onto Clover Street. Dimitriy Kurik attempted to navigate around that vehicle and lost control of the vehicle. The vehicle left the roadway and struck the face of a building. The vehicle overturned and came to an uncontrolled rest on its hood.

Volodimir Vlasyuk, the juvenile passenger who was seated in the rear of the vehicle, was ejected from the vehicle and was pronounced deceased at the scene.

Terrance L. Tenner and Karen L. Gorman were inside the building that was crashed into. They were severely injured as a result of the crash.

As previously reported here on FAA News back in January, Tenner and Gorman, represented by Old Bridge Attorney Zlata Rudikh of Rudikh and Associates, have filed a lawsuit charging his parents for failing to restrain their "out of control" child, noting that just one month prior to the crash, the juvenile driver received citations for driving an unregistered vehicle and displaying fictitious plates, and just 2 days prior to the crash, the juvenile driver was issued a citation for driving under the influence of liquor or drugs.

The lawsuit also charges Eshmatie Persaud who was the owner of the motor vehicle. The lawsuit asserts because there were no reports of this vehicle being stolen, the owner must have consented to it being operated by this driver.

Additionally, the lawsuit charges that there used to be a guardrail on the side of this road, and its removal is heavily to blame for this fatality.

Guardrails are protective devices for redirecting errant vehicles from colliding with an obstruction, and they are designed to reduce the severity of crashes.

Prior to redevelopment of the adjacent Chambers Crescent apartments, there was a guardrail along this section of Cedar Bridge Avenue.

The Chambers Crescent apartments were redeveloped by contractors working for the Lakewood Housing Authority, and at some point during the construction process, the contractors removed the guardrail. The Ocean County Engineering Department typically inspects construction sites along county-owned roads such as Cedar Bridge Avenue to ensure that all existing road infrastructure is replaced. Somehow, in this particular case, the County was unaware that the guardrail was removed, and failed to oversee its replacement, records show that county officials have confirmed, the lawsuit charges.

Between 2019 and August 20, 2021, there were over 100 reportable motor vehicle crashes on this section of Cedar Bridge Avenue, police records show.

To ensure that roadside safety features are capable of performing their intended functions, periodic review, inspection, and maintenance of traffic barriers are necessary and should be a part of the normal maintenance function, and inspection should also be triggered by a crash report indicating a high severity or incidence of run-off-road crashes, the lawsuit contends.

The lawsuit names as defendants to the suit Dimitriy Kurik, the operator of the vehicle, as well as his parents Natalia Kurik and Vyacheslav Polushkin, and Eshmatie Persaud, the owner of the vehicle; Lakewood Township, Ocean County Engineering Department, as well as the Lakewood Housing Authority, and their co-developers and construction contractors, Chambers Crescent Apartments, R. Stone and Company, and Community Investment Strategies, Inc.

The suit seeks "compensatory damages for conscious pain and suffering, wrongful death, survivorship damages, and past and future economic damages together with interest, attorney's fees, and costs of suit."

The Lakewood Housing Authority, represented by Somerville Attorney Richard Grace, have just filed a Motion to Dismiss with prejudice.

"Plaintiffs allege that they suffered injuries as a result of this collision. The pleadings demonstrate that the circumstances resulting in the motor vehicle accident was in no way related to any action or inaction on the part of the Lakewood Housing Authority. The complaint seeks a judgment against the Housing Authority, however the counts fail to include any cognizable theory of liability against the Housing Authority, and further, fail to state a single fact implicating the Housing Authority in either of the counts.

"Count II of the Complaint alleges “Negligent Removal of Guard Rail.” Plaintiffs erroneously contend that the Lakewood Housing Authority and other defendants are responsible for having failed to construct a guardrail that would have minimized the damage caused by the accident. The Complaint does not allege, nor can it, any facts that support the assertion that the Lakewood Housing Authority was responsible for maintaining the area of roadway where the accident took place. Demonstrating the implausibility of this cause of action, plaintiffs make these uncertain allegations against all named defendants. This shotgun pleading method fails to adequately state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Plaintiffs’ allegations against Lakewood Housing Authority contain only conclusory recitals of the elements and speculative assertions of duty. They lack factual plausibility on their face and must be dismissed accordingly," wrote Mr. Grace.

The Housing Authority's motion is returnable before James Den Uyl on April 14. The Plaintiffs have not yet filed Opposition to this just recently filed Motion to Dismiss.

As previously reported here on FAA News, Ocean County also recently filed a Motion for Summary Judgement to get out of this lawsuit. Their motion is returnable March 31.

Lakewood Township has not yet filed any motion in this case.

This is the second lawsuit filed regarding this motor vehicle crash.

As first reported here on FAA News, back in May, the family of the deceased juvenile, also filed a lawsuit.

That lawsuit also named Maser Consulting, the engineer for the housing project, however they immediately settled the matter out of court and was dismissed without prejudice.

As previously reported here on FAA News, Ocean County Superior Court Judge Craig Wellerson has dismissed the Lakewood Housing Authority from that lawsuit for the Plaintiff's failure to comply with the Tort Claims Act.

Ocean County has a pending Motion to get dismissed as well.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Lakewood Township did not bother to fight hard to get out of the first guardrail lawsuit and so far they aren't fighting to get out of this lawsuit either.

They can easily file a Motion to Dismiss if they wanted to, because the road is not owned by the Township and the property is not either owned by the Township.

Seems that the Township does not care to stay in costly litigation as long as their developer friends are not the targets of the litigation...