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Nassau lawmakers to consider $25M settlement with woman injured in crash

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, seen May 22,

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, seen May 22, has ordered a "comprehensive assessment of traffic information," a county spokesman said Tuesday. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau lawmakers on Wednesday will consider a $25 million legal settlement with the family of an Oceanside woman who suffered a traumatic brain injury at 17 in a 2007 crash.

The suit brought by the severely injured woman, Nicollette Iacone, and her parents had claimed Nassau County was liable because the view of the roadway and intersection where the collision occurred was obstructed by an electrical box, hedges, and signage.

It also said there was improper control of traffic at the site and claimed the county was negligent in designing and maintaining the intersection of Oceanside Road and Erwin Place in Oceanside.

The settlement plan comes as Nassau struggles to find revenue sources for its current, $3 billion budget and as lawmakers deliberate on next year's budget proposal. Earlier this year, the county paid a $45 million legal judgment to John Restivo and Dennis Halstead, two men who were exonerated in the 1984 rape and murder of Theresa Fusco, 16, of Lynbrook, after they and a third man served 18 years in prison.

The U.S. Supreme Court in January declined to hear the county's last appeal of the Restivo/Halstead case, leaving the days-old administration of County Executive Laura Curran, a Democrat, with a sizable bill to foot.

The county paid that settlement out of its operating funds in February. The Nassau Interim Finance Authority in July rejected the county's request to borrow to pay for half of the Restivo/Halstead judgment.

In the Iacone case, the county has argued that "the electrical enclosure traffic box, speed sign and/or the shrubs and hedges were not the proximate cause of the accident and resulting injuries to the plaintiff," according to court papers. The county had said the injuries were "the result of superseding causes outside the control of the county."

The family also sued Salvatore Passanisi of Oceanside, who pleaded guilty to vehicular assault and driving while intoxicated in connection with the crash. Passanisi received a sentence of 6 months in jail and 5 years' probation.

County officials declined to comment Tuesday on the proposed settlement, which is expected to be reviewed Wednesday at the legislature's Rules Committee meeting. Republicans control the committee, 4-3.

But county spokesman Michael Martino said the Curran administration was working to increase staffing levels in the Department of Public Works that were reduced before she took office. He said Curran has ordered a “comprehensive assessment of traffic information.”

He said her 2019 budget funds 23 vacancies in Public Works, including professional engineers in the traffic engineering unit. Curran has sought capital funds for the department to “conduct traffic corridor assessments on major county roads to identify required work to be planned for the future.”

A spokesman for the county comptroller's office said officials had not reviewed a payment schedule for the judgment and could not weigh in on the impact to the county's budget. A spokesman for NIFA declined to comment.

The Iacone family's attorney, John A. Meringolo of Commack, said he could not comment on the case because the litigation is ongoing.


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