Court Dismisses Lawsuits in Avon Mountain Crash

The Connecticut Supreme Court has ruled that victims of the 2005 Avon Mountain crash that killed four people and injured 19 cannot sue the state on allegations that Route 44 was dangerous and lacked adequate safety measures.

Justices said in a 5-1 ruling on Monday that the design of the steep road and the lack of warning signs and other safety measures did not make the highway defective under state law.

A dump truck went out of control down the 500-foot hill in Avon in 2005 after its brakes failed, causing a fiery, 20-vehicle accident at the bottom that killed four people and injured 19.

The court dismissed two identical lawsuits by crash survivor Michael Cummings, of New Hartford, and Ellen Stotler, of Avon, whose husband died in the crash.

Cummings' attorney, T.J. Donahue, said he's disappointed in the ruling.

"That was an inherently dangerous road. There are volumes of information from the DOT that prove it's dangerous," Donahue said on Monday.

Mark Robinson, who was injured in the accident, called the ruling a "slap in the face."

"That was the seventh truck in 21 years to lose its brakes down Avon Mountain," he said. "It wasn't until the eighth truck in September 2007 that crashed in a furniture store [that] the state finally made improvements."

Despite their convictions that justice has not been served, Donahue said he has no plans to appeal the ruling.

"Thihs is probably the end of the road," he said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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