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Parties dispute who was driving during fatal highway crash
Hartford Judicial District, Superior Court
head-fracture, skull; other-death; pelvis-fracture, pelvis
Wrongful Death; Motor Vehicle - Passenger, Single Vehicle
Ahmed Oadeh, Administrator of the Estate of Fira Oadeh v. Maria Fagan and Kenneth Fagan, Personal Representatives of the Estate of Timothy E. Fagan, No. CV13-6048857-S; CV13-6046339-S
April 25, 2016
Ahmed Oadeh (Male),
Estate of Fira Oadeh (Male, 22 Years)
Joseph P. McManus; McManus Law Offices; Grafton, MA, for Ahmed Oadeh, Estate of Fira Oadeh ■ Daniel Patrick Morrissey; Bacon & Wilson, PC; Springfield, MA, for Ahmed Oadeh, Estate of Fira Oadeh
Esteate of Timothy E. Fagan
Sergio C. DeGanis; Ouellette, DeGanis, Gallagher & Grippe, LLC; Cheshire, CT, for Maria Fagan, Kenneth Fagan, Esteate of Timothy E. Fagan
Peerless Insurance Co. for Fagan
On Nov. 9, 2011, at approximately 3:30 p.m., plaintiff's decedent Fira Oadeh, 22, an apprentice laborer, was in a company vehicle that was involved in a motor vehicle accident. The accident occurred while Oadeh and his foreman Timothy E. Fagan, 42, were heading back from a job at the Greenwich Post Office. They were traveling north between exits 59 and 60 on the Wilbur Cross Highway, and were headed toward their homes in Enfield, Connecticut and East Longmeadow, Massachusetts. The driver of the work van lost control, hit a guardrail and rolled into the southbound lanes of traffic. Oadeh and Fagan were both ejected from the van. Fagan landed on the windshield of a southbound car and Oadeh landed on the highway. Both men died at the scene. The initial police investigation indicated that Oadeh was driving the vehicle, with Fagan as a passenger. The report was bolstered by the men's employer, Sebastian Gilberto of Advanced Caulking and Restoration LLC, who allegedly told officers at the scene that Oadeh was driving based on a telephone conversation he had with Fagan earlier in the afternoon. Gilberto denied making that statement when interviewed by his insurance company a year later. At that time and through trial, Gilberto testified that he was shaken at the scene and had no recollection of statements he made to police. Oadeh's estate sued Fagan's estate for wrongful death. Likewise, Fagan's estate sued Oadeh's estate for wrongful death. The cases were consolided for litigation purposes. Oadeh's estate disputed that Oadeh was driving, arguing that Oadeh was a new employee, did not have a union card, and did not have his driver's license with him on the day of the accident. Further, Oadeh's estate alleged that Fagan was the foreman, had permission to use the van and ordinarily took the van home with him at night. According to Oadeh's estate, Fagan would pick up and drop off Oadeh at his home each day. Contrarily, Fagan's estate had argued that Oadeh was driving at the time of the accident. The liability portion of the trial was heard first. A Hartford jury in 2015 determined that Fagan was driving the vehicle at the time of the accident. The case then proceeded on the issue of damages.
Oadeh died at the scene from catastrophic injuries. He was survived by his parents and siblings. The estate claimed $1 million to $2.7 million in lost earnings, as well as wrongful death damages. Oadeh's estate alleged that Oadeh had worked at Advanced Caulking for a month before the accident and loved his new job. The estate argued that Oadeh would have likely transitioned to a union job within the company and his lifetime earnings would exceed $2.7 million. Another estimate, based on his age and prior education at the time of his death, placed Oadeh's non-union earnings at $1 million. To evidence how long Oadeh had worked at Advanced Caulking prior to his death, plaintiff's counsel presented a photograph of Oadeh taken 17 days prior to the accident, which showed him wearing the same type of protective equipment used at Advanced Caulking. The defense contended that Oadeh had worked at the company for only three days before the accident occurred, as evidenced by payroll records. The defense also argued that Oadeh's lost earning capacity was $450,000, based on his earnings peaking at middle age and declining thereafter. Further, the defense maintained that Oadeh's economic damages were speculative, as Oadeh was a new hire, smoked marijuana and had prior physical problems.
Following a trial on damages, the jury awarded $7,767,046 to Oadeh's estate. The case was resolved based on a stipulation between the parties after the jury trial on liability. The parties had agreed that the estate of the person who was determined to be the driver would get $300,000, and the passenger would receive what a jury determined, or at maximum, the balance of the $6 million in insurance policy proceeds. After payment of $300,000 to Fagan's estate and a reduction for property loss (the van), Oadeh's estate netted $5,685,933.80.
Estate of Fira Oadeh: $2,767,046 Personal Injury: economic damages; $5,000,000 Personal Injury: non-economic damages
This report is based on information provided that was provided by plaintiff's and defense counsel.