Paralyzed Plaintiff Loses Suit After Crashing Into Fire Truck On I-95

, The Connecticut Law Tribune

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Greenwich Assistant Town Attorney Aamina Ahmad

William Kumah, et al. v. Town of Greenwich: William Kumah was left paralyzed following a collision on Interstate 95 in which his car smashed into a fire truck that was parked across two lanes of the highway in the middle of the night.

Kumah's ensuing lawsuit against the town of Greenwich became familiar to many in the legal community because pre-trial motions went all the way to the state Supreme Court. In the end, just two claims — for negligence and public nuisance — against the town of Greenwich were allowed to proceed to trial.

More than seven years after the accident, a Bridgeport Superior Court jury recently decided that the town of Greenwich was not at fault. The decision was a substantial victory for the town. Kumah, who is in his 40s, needs 'round-the-clock medical care and his attorneys had sought $12 million in damages.

"This was a very unfortunate accident for Mr. Kumah and his wonderful family," said Greenwich Assistant Town Attorney Aamina Ahmad. "However, the town believes that its volunteers from the Cos Cob Fire Police Patrol acted in a reasonable manner and were exercising their judgment and discretion in responding to a serious emergency situation on the highway."

At 1:50 a.m. on Sept. 3, 2006, Leo Brown was driving a tractor-trailer southbound on I-95 near the end of the Mianus River Bridge in Greenwich when he lost control of his rig and struck a Jersey barrier and bridge railing. The truck eventually came to rest in the right and center lanes of the highway.

Because of the accident, 35 gallons of diesel fuel leaked onto the highway. First-responders included state police, Greenwich firefighters, the state Department of Environmental Protection and the Cos Cob volunteer fire police patrol.

Several rear-end collisions occurred on the highway in the aftermath of the accident. Emergency responders then temporarily closed the highway while the Cos Cob patrol set up an emergency traffic pattern.

The volunteers parked their vehicle diagonally across the center and right lanes of the highway. It was illuminated and the volunteers placed safety cones and flares on the road leading up to it so that other drivers would know to merge into the left lane.

Brown's tractor-trailer was removed from the highway, one lane was reopened and crews continued to clean up the fuel spill. Meanwhile, William Kumah was returning to his home in Long Island after transporting family members living in Derby to and from a wedding on Long Island that took place the day previous.

Kumah was alone in his car traveling southbound on I-95 at 4:10 a.m. As Kumah approached the prior accident scene, he skidded through the safety cones and smashed into the parked fire vehicle and then the bridge railing.

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