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Worcester County, Mass.

This was a death action arising out of a head-on collision accident involving the decedent motorcycle operator, age 17 at the time of the subject incident, and a utility van driven by the defendant David Annunziata. At the time of the subject accident, the defendant Annunziata was operating the van in the course of his employment with the defendant Massachusetts Electric Company, which leased the van from the defendant Banker’s Leasing Corporation. The subject collision occurred in the defendant van driver’s lane of travel. The decedent was comatose at the scene of the accident and never regained consciousness. The decedent died approximately 12 days following the accident as a result of the severe multiple injuries suffered.

The subject accident occurred on June 28, ________ on a winding roadway in Auburn, Massachusetts, when the motorcycle operated by the decedent crossed over the double yellow line and struck the utility van. The plaintiff contended that the accident was caused by the negligence of the defendant van operator, who allegedly forced the plaintiff to cross into the oncoming lane of travel by the careless operation of it’s vehicle. In support of this assertion, the plaintiff presented an accident reconstruction expert who maintained, based upon his examination of the angle of the skid marks left at the scene of the accident, that the defendant’s van was either significantly encroaching on the center yellow line placing it partially in the decedent’s path, or was completely over the center yellow line, and that when the decedent motorcycle operator saw the defendant’s van directly in his path of travel, he was forced to veer into the oncoming lane.

The plaintiff’s expert opined that the van operator suddenly returned to his own lane of travel simultaneous to the decedent’s veering into the oncoming lane in an attempt to avoid hitting the van, as a result of which the collision occurred.

The defendant van operator testified that he was operating the van in the proper lane of travel when the motorcycle heading towards him crossed over the center line and veered directly into his path of travel without braking. The van operator further testified that he attempted to avoid the collision by steering towards the shoulder, but was unsuccessful. The defendant’s engineer/accident reconstruction expert maintained, based upon his examination of the available physical evidence including skid marks and photographs depicting the location of the vehicle immediately following the accident, that the manner in which the accident occurred was completely consistent with the testimony offered by the defendant van operator. The defendant’s expert refuted the basis for the plaintiff’s expert’s opinion, which placed the van in the plaintiffs’ lane of travel prior to impact by tracing a straight line backwards following the angle of the defendant’s skid marks. The defendant’s expert countered that this expert’s approach was too simplistic and failed to take into account the clockwise angular rotation of the defendant’s vehicle which naturally occurred during the skid, as the van attempted to veer over to the shoulder to avoid the accident.

The decedent survived in the hospital in a comatose state for 12 days following the accident. The plaintiff made a claim for conscious pain and suffering on the part of the decedent although there was no evidence offered to establish that he ever regained consciousness from the time of the accident until the time of his death nearly two weeks later. The decedent was survived by his illegitimate son, who was two years old at the time of his death, and by his parents. The decedent’s parents testified as to the decedent’s close relationship with his son and with the rest of the members of his family. The jury found for the defendant.

Plaintiff’s state police accident reconstruction expert: Gerald Murphy from Concord, Mass. Defendant’s engineer/accident reconstruction expert: David Mercaldi from Failure Analysis Assocs. in Westborough, Mass. Kenneth Haskins, Adm. of the Estate of Christopher Haskins vs. David Annunziata, Massachusetts ELectric Co. and Banker’s Leasing Corp. Case no. 85/________; Judge Flannery, 9-16-88. Attorney for plaintiff: Seymour Weinstein and Karen Stern, both of Worcester, Mass.; Attorneys for defendants: Steven E. Thomas and Nicholas J. DeNitto, both of Westborough, Mass.

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