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In a civil action over the death of an innocent bystander during a drag race, a judge has dismissed Nassau County from liability. State Supreme Court Justice Geoffrey J. O’Connell determined that plaintiff Amy Jacofsky, whose husband, Glenn Jacofsky, was killed in his car as a result of a drag race between two other drivers, was unable to show that Nassau County was negligent in its design, construction and regulation of traffic on Lawson Boulevard in Oceanside. Ms. Jacofsky had alleged that Nassau County failed to take “passive mitigation factors” to prevent drag racing on the road. She relied on four letters sent to the county by people complaining of speeding and asking for additional traffic lights on the street. The county presented evidence showing that it had conducted a study of traffic signals in place on the street and that it considered no other measures to curb speeding. Justice O’Connell, in Jacofsky v. Hart, 7655-02, found that the letters did not impose a duty on the county to act in addition to having the studies conducted. In a criminal case of first impression, Kevin Hart was convicted in August 2002 of manslaughter for the death of Mr. Jacofsky. Mr. Hart’s Corvette never came in contact with Mr. Jacofsky’s Volvo, but the jury determined that by drag racing with Michael Vasapolli, whose Lamborghini slammed into the Jacofskys’ car, he was responsible for the man’s death. Mr. Vasapolli was also killed in the crash. Ms. Jacofsky sustained injuries. (The decision will be published Friday.)
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A Nassau County judge has found that a customer suing Toys “R” Us in a class action lawsuit regarding its rewards program offering “Geoffrey dollars” is not required to add the credit card company participating in the program to the complaint. State Supreme Court Justice Leonard B. Austin rejected the defense’s argument in Spector v. Toys “R” Us, 16479-03, that by not naming Chase Manhattan Bank USA as a defendant, plaintiff Ruth Spector was attempting to avoid the arbitration clause in her credit card agreement for disputes over purchases. The lawsuit alleges that Toys “R” Us violated General Business Law �349 in its rebate program, which issues credits to consumers for purchases made with the credit card. Specifically, the action alleges that when consumers return items purchased with a combination of cash and Geoffrey dollars, so named for its animated spokesman, they only receive reimbursement for the cash spent, not the Geoffrey dollars. Justice Austin found that joinder of Chase Manhattan was not mandatory because the complaint was not directed at Chase Manhattan’s operation or application of the rebate program but instead related to the store’s application of the program. He further reasoned that even adding Chase Manhattan to the case would not make the arbitration agreement binding since the agreement applied only to disputes between the card holder and the bank. (The decision will be published Thursday.)

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