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Survivor of limo crash files notice of claim against town, county


The number of pending lawsuits stemming from last month’s fatal limo crash in Cutchogue continues to grow.

Joelle DiMonte, 25, one of six survivors in the incident, is the third party to file a notice of claim with the Town of Southold and Suffolk County in response to the crash, which claimed the lives of four of her friends. 

Attorneys for Ms. DiMonte of Elwood filed the notice of claim with the Southold Town Clerk’s office Wednesday, the same day the town received a similar notice from the family of Brittney Schulman, 23, one of the victims killed in the crash. One week earlier, the father of a second deceased victim, Lauren Baruch, 24, also filed a notice of claim against the town and county.

All three notices allege “negligence, carelessness and recklessness” by the two municipalities in the design, construction and maintenance of the intersection at Route 48 and Depot Lane, where the crash occurred. According to the notice, which was filed by attorney Rhonda Meyer of the law firm of Pegalis & Erickson in Lake Success, N.Y., the county and town knew about deficiencies at the intersection, including the need for a traffic light and increased signage there.

At the time of the accident, the intersection had only a flashing yellow light, but since then, Legislator Al Krupski announced that a full traffic light will be installed.

The respondents in the claim — Southold Town and Suffolk County — have 30 days to respond to the allegations.

Ms. DiMonte, who was hospitalized at Peconic Bay Medical Center for two days following the crash, is seeking monetary damages for “serious personal injuries, conscious pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and economic losses” as a result of the crash. She was photographed in a wheelchair and wearing an eye patch in the days following the crash.

Ms. DiMonte was riding in a limousine with seven of her friends on July 18 when the limo driver tried to make a U-turn at the intersection of Route 48 and Depot Lane. A pickup truck driven by Peconic resident Steven Romeo, 55, struck the limousine, killing four of the women. According to an accident report attached to Ms. DiMonte’s notice of claim, police said the limo driver failed to yield the right-of-way to Mr. Romeo, who faces a misdemeanor driving while intoxicated charge for his role in the crash. The limo driver is not expected to face any criminal charges, prosecutors have said.

At a July 24 press conference, District Attorney Thomas Spota said Mr. Romeo’s blood-alcohol content was 0.066 — below the legal limit of 0.08 — one hour and 40 minutes after the crash. The crash investigation is ongoing.

Another survivor from the crash, 24-year-old Olga Lipets, filed a separate civil suit in Brooklyn earlier this month seeking monetary damages for the serious injuries she sustained.

Caption: Emergency personnel respond to the July 18 crash at the corner of Depot Lane and Route 48 in Cutchogue. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

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