The family of a man killed in a crash with the wife of famed ESPN sportscaster Chris Berman has settled its lawsuit against the restaurant that served Katherine Berman drinks right before the collision.
Philip Spillane, the New Milford attorney representing the estate of Edward Bertulis, confirmed exclusively to the Connecticut Law Tribune Thursday that the parties reached a settlement. He declined to elaborate, except to say they reached the agreement over the past week.
Spillane, of Hoekanga & Machado, said the Bertulises are a close-knit family.
“They value their privacy, and have been devastated by this loss,” he said. “[They] are trying to resolve things as painlessly as possible.”
Bertulis, 87, had just left the gravesite of his wife when he was killed in May 2017. According to the lawsuit filed against the restaurant, Katherine Berman “suddenly and without warning slammed into the rear end of Mr. Bertulis with such force that the impact caused Mr. Bertulis to be ejected from the vehicle and suffer severe injuries which later resulted in his death.”
Katherine Berman also died in the Woodbury accident.
The Bertulis family is now in negotiations with Chubb Insurance, the carrier for Katherine Berman’s Cheshire estate. Spillane said he is hopeful a settlement with the estate could be made without litigation. He declined to elaborate on the value of Berman’s policy, or how much the family was seeking. Spillane also offered no timeline on when a possible settlement with the estate could occur.
Theresa Nehez, a senior claim director for Chubb Insurance in New Haven, is handling the case. She did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.
Francis Paola of the West Hartford-based Law Offices of Rodd Mantell represents Woodbury-based Market Place Kitchen & Bar, where Katherine Berman drank before the crash, and its owner, Elias Hawli.
“We are happy we settled the case and that it’s over with,” said Paola, who declined to elaborate.
Hawli could not be reached by press time.
The Bertulis family sued the restaurant under the state’s Dram Shop Act, which holds businesses liable for selling alcohol to drunk patrons who later injure or kill others. Connecticut is one of 38 states that have instituted the DSA within its statutes.
The 250-page police report, which was released two and a half months ago, showed Katherine Berman’s blood-alcohol level was 0.26. The legal limit in Connecticut is 0.08. In addition, the report said, Berman’s Lexus SC430 was traveling about 82 miles per hour. The police report also states there was no alcohol or drugs present in Bertulis’ blood stream.
The case has drawn statewide and national publicity.