Authorities investigate the scene of a fatal crash between a...

Authorities investigate the scene of a fatal crash between a limousine and sports utility vehicle in Cutchogue on July 18, 2015. Credit: Randee Daddona

The families of the victims and the survivors of the 2015 Cutchogue fatal limousine crash that killed four young women have reached a $6.1 million settlement in their wrongful death and personal injury lawsuit against the limo company, its driver and manufacturer and the Town of Southold, court records show.

“All I can say at this time is that we have reached an agreement with the private parties,” said Nancy DiMonte of Elwood, whose daughter Joelle DiMonte survived the crash. “It’s been a long eight years, and the families are never going to get over what happened.”

The fatal crash, followed by the 2018 collision in upstate Schoharie County that killed 20 people, led to the enactment of state laws requiring limousines to use commercial GPS devices and increasing the penalties for limousine drivers who make illegal U-turns.

Killed in the July 18, 2015, crash, which occurred during a North Fork winery outing, were Stephanie Belli, 23, of Kings Park; Lauren Baruch, 24, of Smithtown; Amy Grabina, 23, of Commack; and Brittney Schulman, 23, of Smithtown.

Their four friends who survived the crash are DiMonte, who was 25 and lived Elwood at the time; Alicia Arundel, then 24, of Setauket; Olga Lipets, then 24, of Brooklyn; and Melissa Angela Crai, who was 23 and lived in Scarsdale.

According to the settlement filed in Suffolk County Supreme Court Thursday, Ultimate Class Limousine Inc. of Hicksville and limo driver Carlos Pino will pay $1.5 million; Steven Romeo, the driver who struck the limo, and the company he co-owns, Romeo Dimon Marine Services Inc. of Southold, will pay $500,000; the Town of Southold will pay $100,000; and Cabot Coach Builders Inc., the manufacturer of the 2007 Lincoln Town Car stretch limousine involved in the crash, will pay $4 million.  The sums are to be paid by the parties and/or their insurance companies. 

A judge will have to sign off on the settlement, which was reached through mediation. 

Suffolk County was dismissed from the lawsuit on summary judgment. 

None of the defendants or their lawyers could be reached for comment Friday. Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell did not respond to a message seeking comment.

The four victims in the Cutchogue limousine crash were Stephanie...

The four victims in the Cutchogue limousine crash were Stephanie Belli, 23, of Kings Park; Lauren Baruch, 24, and Brittney M. Schulman, 23, both of Smithtown; and Amy R. Grabina, 23, of Commack. Credit: Facebook

The estates of the four women who were killed will each receive $563,030, minus legal fees, according to the settlement. Arundel and Lipets will receive more than $1.1 million each, and DiMonte and Crai will each receive $821,670.

"After several years of litigation and motion practice, the plaintiffs and a majority of the defendants, agreed to conduct mediation to globally resolve this matter among the participating parties," read an affidavit signed by Steven Baruch, the father of Lauren Baruch, in support of the settlement agreement. On Aug. 9, 2023, mediation was held and a proposed settlement was reached with respect the claims between the participating' parties to the mediation." 

The eight young women were on an East End winery tour to celebrate an upcoming wedding when their limo driver attempted to make a U-turn from the eastbound lane of Route 48 to the westbound lane. The limo was struck by a pickup truck driven by Romeo, of Southold. 

The limo driver, Pino, of Old Westbury, was indicted on criminally negligent homicide charges. State Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho tossed the indictment against Pino in 2016, saying the U-turn was not illegal, and Pino’s actions did not meet the legal definition of criminally negligent homicide.

Romeo pleaded guilty in 2017 to driving while impaired. He was sentenced to a 90-day license suspension and fined $500.

The Cutchogue intersection where the limo crash occurred had long been the subject of concern for residents because of the number of limousines on their way to East End vineyards attempting to make U-turns along the rural road.

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