snifter, liquor Credit: Marian Weyo/Shutterstock.com

The family of a man who died after having drinks at a bar in Jersey City and then driving his car into the Morris Canal Basin agreed to a $1.75 million settlement in a Middlesex County case, Pych v. Powerhouse Lounge, on May 10.

Mark Pych, 22, met friends for drinks at Powerhouse Lounge at a New Year’s party in the early hours of January 1, 2014, according to the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Nicholas Leonardis of Stathis & Leonardis in Edison. Pych left the bar at 3 a.m., then drove his car south along Marin Boulevard, to a point where the street becomes a private roadway on the site of the New York Waterway ferry service. The roadway continued to the edge of the water, and with no barriers at the water’s edge, Pych’s vehicle plunged into the water and sank. Unable to escape the car, he drowned. An autopsy showed Pych’s blood-alcohol concentration was .20, more than twice the the legal limit of .08, according to Leonardis.

Pych’s parents and sister filed a dram shop claim against Powerhouse Lounge. The suit also named as defendants New York Waterway, the ferry operator; Liberty Harbor, owner of the ferry terminal property; and Marin Boulevard Enterprises, owner of a neighboring property.

Powerhouse continued to serve Pych after he was visibly intoxicated, the suit claimed. And the three other defendants were accused of operating premises with unsafe conditions. The suit claimed there were no signs or other indications that the public street came to an end and private property began. The suit also claimed that the ferry terminal failed to employ cones or barriers to keep cars away from the water’s edge. The plaintiffs also claimed that the defendants failed to comply with terms of their site plan approval calling for a cul-de-sac, concrete curbs, barriers at the water’s edge, and trees and landscaping.

The settlement was reached following mediation with John Keefe Sr. of the Keefe Law Firm in Red Bank, former Appellate Division presiding judge.

The settlement calls for Powerhouse to pay $1 million, and for the three other defendants to jointly pay $750,000, according to Leonardis, who represented the decedent’s family along with Glenn Slavin of Slavin & Morse in Woodbridge.

The defense lawyers did not return calls about the case: Danielle DeGeorgio of Faust Goetz Schenker & Blee in Livingston, for Powerhouse Lounge; Kevin Kelly of Kelly, Kelly, Marotta & Lafferty in Maywood, for Liberty Harbor Holdings; Justin Nastro of Freehill, Hogan & Maher in Jersey City, for Port Imperial Ferry Corp.; and Terence King of Lavallette, for Marin Boulevard Enterprises.

— Charles Toutant

$1.25M For Rear-End Accident

Kozatiwitz v. Collins: A Matawan woman is to receive $1.25 million as  compensation for back injuries she sustained when her car was rear-ended at a traffic light.

Plaintiff Sharon Kozatiwitz, now 50, agreed to the settlement on June 19 with State Farm Insurance Co., the carrier for defendants John Collins, the owner of the car that struck hers, and the driver, Michael Bosco, said Kozatiwitz’s attorney, Michael Heck.

Both Collins and Bosco are residents of Marlboro Township, said Heck, of Epstein Ostrove in Edison.

The accident occurred on June 11, 2014, when Kozatiwitz was stopped at a traffic light on Route 79 at Steeplechase Drive in Marlboro. Collins’ car struck Kozatiwitz’s car from behind, Heck said.

Kozatiwitz sustained cervical back injuries that required a discectomy and other related procedures, as well as as arthroscopic surgery on her left shoulder, Heck said.

The case was filed in Middlesex County, and had been tentatively scheduled for trial in August, Heck noted.

State Farm was the carrier for both Collins and Bosco. The carrier retained Stephen Czeslowski of Red Bank’s Campbell, Foley, Delano & Adams to defend the case. Czeslowski did not return a call seeking comment.

— Michael Booth

$700K in Middlesex Auto Case

Lucas v. Fail: A woman who sustained significant internal injuries in an accident on Route 1 was paid a $700,000 settlement in her Middlesex County suit on May 10.

Plaintiff Freda Lucas was struck at the intersection with Parsonage Road in Edison on June 16, 2014, when defendant Jimmy Fail, driving a commercial truck owned by his employer, allegedly ran a red light, according to Lucas’ attorney, Edison solo Steven Sona.

Lucas, currently 84, sustained numerous fractured ribs and a fractured scapula, leading to a collapsed lung requiring a chest tube and about four months of combined hospitalization and inpatient rehabilitation; as well as spinal injuries at the lumbar and cervical levels, Sona said. She developed post-traumatic atrial fibrillation, which was treated with medication and resolved after one year, and has lingering issues with breathing, stamina and fatigue, Sona said.

Fail later contended that the truck’s brakes went out. He was named in the suit, along with the employer, Lochiatto Masonry of Edison, insured by Progressive. The suit contended that it was Lochiatto’s responsibility to ensure that vehicle brakes functioned properly. The defense acknowledged the permanency of Lucas’ shoulder and rib injuries, but disputed causation on the spinal condition, Sona said.

On May 4, about a month before a scheduled trial, the parties agreed to settle for $700,000 of the $1 million Progressive policy, according to Sona.

The defendants’ lawyer, Peter J. Rossi of Cipriani & Werner in Woodbridge, didn’t return a call about the case.

— David Gialanella