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New lawsuit filed against limo company

JOHNSTOWN — A Gloversville law firm has filed the latest civil complaint against the limousine company at the heart of the Oct. 6, 2018 crash in Schoharie that claimed the lives of 20 people.

Smrtic & Stanyon LLP filed a lawsuit Friday in state Supreme Court in Johnstown on behalf of the estate of 27-year-old crash victim Matthew Coons of Gloversville.

The 20-page complaint was brought specifically against: Shahed Hussain, Prestige Limousine and Chauffer Services, Hasy Limousine and Saratoga Luxury Limousine, Nauman A. Hussain, Malik Riaz Hussain and Mavis Discount Tire Inc.

“What we’re doing is filing on behalf of the victims and holding those responsible for the deaths that occurred,” attorney Michael W. Smrtic said Monday.

The town of Schoharie accident involved a vehicle from the Gansevoort-based Prestige Limousine & Chauffeur Service.

State police said the 2001 Ford Excursion coming from Saratoga County had been traveling downhill toward the intersection of Route 30 and 30A in the town near the Apple Barrel Country Store. Troopers said the stretch limo failed to stop, crossing the highway before hitting an unoccupied SUV in the parking lot of the Apple Barrel, and two pedestrians nearby. The limousine then crashed into a shallow ravine, troopers said.

A news release issued Monday by attorney Smrtic stated, in part: “What happened in Schoharie on Oct. 6, 2018 was and remains a horrific tragedy. I think everyone agrees that this fact cannot be overstated. It has affected people locally and all over the United States because of the magnitude of this terrible event. The families and friends of these victims will never forget what happened that day.”

Smrtic added: “In speaking with our client, Jill Perez, the mother of Matthew Coons, she firmly believes that in coming forward it is important to hold those responsible accountable whether it be criminally, as Schoharie County District Attorney [Susan] Mallery is doing, civilly as we are doing by filing this complaint and through lobbying our public officials to change the laws which govern limousines in order to implement policy which will prevent this from ever happening again.”

Limousine passengers killed were: Amanda R. Rivenburg, 29, of Colonie; Axel J. Steenburg; Richard M. Steenburg,; Amy L. Steenburg; Allison King, 31, Ballston Spa; Mary E. Dyson, 33, Watertown; Robert J. Dyson, 34, Watertown; Abigail M. Jackson, 34, Amsterdam; Matthew W. Coons, 27, Gloversville; Savannah D. Bursese, 24, Johnstown; Patrick K. Cushing, 31, Troy; Amanda D. Halse, 26, Troy; Erin R. McGowan, 34, Amsterdam; Shane T. McGowan, 30, Amsterdam; Adam G. Jackson, 34, Amsterdam; Rachael K. Cavosie, 30, Waterford; Michael C. Ukaj, 34, Johnstown.

Pedestrians standing in the Apple Barrel lot killed were Brian Hough, 46, Moravia; and James Schnurr, 70, Kerhonkson.

The limousine driver killed was Scott T. Lisinicchia, 53, of Lake George.

The operator of the limousine company in April pleaded not guilty to 20 counts each of criminally negligent homicide and second-degree manslaughter in the crash. Nauman Hussain, 29, operator of Prestige Limousine, was released on $450,000 bond after his arraignment in Schoharie County Court and is subject to electronic monitoring. He had been free on $150,000 bond since his arrest in October 2018.

The family of Rivenburg filed a suit in Nov. 2018. No specific damages being sought were indicated in that lawsuit.

The latest complaint filed by Smrtic & Stanyon LLP indicates seven causes of action seeking non-specific monetary damages.

The first cause alleges that due to “numerous mechanical defects” on the limo, “the defendants knew or should have known it was unsafe for operation as a carrier of passengers.”

“Additionally, the defendants knew that it had placed in operation as a common carrier a vehicle that was not properly registered, inspected and upon information and belief, had inadequate repairs performed that failed to remedy any of the defective mechanical conditions existing on the 2001 Ford Excursion Limousine prior to Oct. 6, 2018,” the lawsuit says.

The second cause of action against the Hussains states the family members “knowingly and willfully” registered the limo.

“As a result of the gross negligence and willful misconduct of the Hussain defendants, in addition to compensatory damages, warrants an award of punitive and exemplary damages to the plaintiff,” court parapets said.

The third cause of action notes that Coons prior to his death was “healthy and employed and contributed to the support of his family …”

A fourth cause of action involved Mavis Discount Tire Inc., noting “defects” that the company failed to notice and correct from the limo, during its inspection.

A fifth cause of action notes Coons “left surviving family and heirs at law for whose benefits this claim is commenced.”

The sixth cause against Mavis alleges the company knew that “repairs were inadequate and temporary, and would not remedy the defects in the braking system.”

A final cause of action states that “as a result of the gross negligence and willful misconduct of the defendant Mavis Discount,”

the situation caused a serious injury for Coons as defined under Sections 5102 and 5104 of the New York State Insurance Law, “to wit: death.”

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.

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