$9 Million Awarded to Ferry Accident Victim

$9 Million Awarded to Ferry Accident Victim

A man has received a $9 million settlement for his severe injuries that resulted from the tragic October 15, 2003 Staten Island ferry crash.  The settlement is not only the largest personal injury settlement to occur from the fatal incident that claimed the lives of 11 individuals, but also the second largest settlement to face the city this fiscal year. 

According to a statement released by city officials, Paul Esposito, 26, will receive $8,986,852, which will be put into an annuity fund to provide his income for life.  Esposito lost both legs in the catastrophic accident and is now only able to mobilize himself with the use of computerized prosthetic legs.  

Investigations have confirmed that the Andrew J. Barberi ferry accident occurred when the pilot, Richard Smith fell unconscious and crashed into a dock on Staten Island

“The city continues to express its deep regret for this tragic accident and hopes that this settlement will in some measure bring closure to Mr. Esposito and his family,” commented Lawrence Kahn, a representative from the City Law Department. 

The Esposito family initially filed a claim for over $300 million for Paul’s injuries.  An attorney who is not involved with the case but has represented other ferry accident victims explains that the final settlement should result to over $25 million over time with the annuity growth. 

Approximately $3.2 billion in claims have been filed on behalf of 191 victims of the Staten Island boat accident.  To date, 98 cases have reportedly settled amounting in sum to $3.6 million, only one-third of the Esposito settlement. 

The large settlement awarded to the Esposito family has inspired attorneys still involved in unresolved claims.  The city is petitioning to cap their liability at $14.2 million in damages under the argument that they should not be held liable, under maritime law, for exorbitant settlements. 

“In view of the settlement, maybe they are lacking confidence in the legal theory,” comments attorney Anthony Bisignano, who is opposing the limited ferry liability proposal.  “In light of the settlement, maybe they ought to withdraw their petition to [limit liability] and attempt to settle all of the case.”

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