A West Hartford woman seriously injured after the brakes in the antique car she was driving suddenly stopped functioning, causing the 1964 Chrysler New Yorker to strike another vehicle, crash into a guardrail and go over an embankment, has settled her case for $335,000.
Renee Dubin lost her brakes while exiting Interstate 84 in West Hartford, just 35 minutes after picking up the vehicle from an auto shop, the Clinton-based M&M Motors International LLC, according to Dubin’s attorney, Bruce Newman, who works in the Bristol offices of Brown, Paindiris & Scott.
M&M Motors had repaired a rear tire flat on the car the same day as the accident, according to the lawsuit, filed December 2017 in Hartford Superior Court. The accident occurred in July 2017. According to Newman, M&M Motors had serviced the vehicle on 10 separate occasions in the 15 months before the crash.
“They never once inspected the brakes. They released the car to her and represented it as being in good mechanical condition,” Newman told the Connecticut Law Tribune Friday.
While the attorney representing Nationwide Insurance, M&M Motors’ carrier, settled several weeks ago for $335,000, the owner of the auto shop said Friday, “I’m baffled the insurance company settled.”
Mack Omeragic, owner of M&M Motors, said Dubin went in for a “simple flat repair” on the day of the accident and that was the only work done on the car. Regarding the many visits the car had in the shop, Omeragic said, “We checked the whole vehicle over. It’s a 54-year-old vehicle. I’m saddened that this can happen out of nothing.”
Deborah Bradley, Nationwide’s attorney, declined to comment Friday. Bradley is with the Rocky Hill-based Law Offices of John P. Calabrese. In court papers, the defense said the auto shop was not negligent and said it was up to the plaintiff’s side to prove the case.
One challenge Newman said he had in representing Dubin was her age at the time of accident.
“It’s an 88-year-old woman involved and, because of that, you don’t think it’s a good liability claim,” Newman said. “After the accident, she felt her thinking and cognitive abilities were impaired. That was a big challenge in the case because it’s hard to prove that happened from the accident as opposed to the natural aging process.”
Newman said Dubin, who was not cited by police, fractured her ribs, had a concussion, and injured her left knee. Dubin spent four days in a hospital and 23 days in a rehabilitation facility, Newman said.
“Today, she is doing OK,” Newman said, adding, “she got pretty banged up, but she is a very active, healthy, sharp and smart woman.” The police on the scene, Newman noted, “commended her on her driving. She was on a busy off-ramp. It could have been much worse.”
The two sides, Newman said, settled the case on their own without a mediator. “Once we started the settlement negotiation, their initial offer was zero. They then came up to $250,000,” said Newman, who was seeking $410,000. After several weeks, the two sides agreed on $335,000, Newman said.
Newman said Dubin was satisfied with the settlement and “was pleased to get this behind her.” The settlement monies have been disbursed, Newman said.