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Agreement reached giving NTSB some access to Schoharie limo

January 29, 2019 07:04 PM

SCHOHARIE - It took nearly four months but finally the National Transportation Safety Board has the go-ahead to inspect the wrecked limousine in which twenty people died last October.

"Today's agreement made me more confident that the evidence is in good hands," said Lee Kindlon, the attorney representing Nauman Hussain, the son of Prestige Limousine & Chauffeur Service Owner Shahed Hussain.

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Kindlon says the agreement reached between Schoharie County District Attorney Susan Mallery and the NTSB, which allows the federal investigation, doesn't really affect his case since the NTSB can't release their findings until after the criminal case is adjudicated.

What Kindlon says does concern him however is the likelihood that charges against his client will be upgraded.

"I'm not naive enough to think that there won't be criminal charges," Kindlon says, "I am confident enough to know there won't be a criminal conviction out of this, but we fully anticipate being in that courtroom at some point this year defending him on criminal charges."

As confident as Kindlon is about the outcome of his criminal case, that's how certain Attorney Sal Ferlazzo is about the civil lawsuit he's filed on behalf of crash victim Amanda Rivenburgh's family.

"There's clear negligence here," Ferlazzo insisted. "There's clear damages and so on the civil side, I view it as a much easier task. It is."

In the 11-page lawsuit, Nauman and his father Shahed Hussain are the only named defendants. However, the court papers list 10 John Doe's.

"The state of New York is a major party here and we fully intend to point everything at them," Ferlazzo promised. "It had a major role here in failing to prevent this accident."

Ferlazzo says the guilt or innocence of Hussain in the criminal case has no real bearing on his civil lawsuit.

"It [civil case] is easier to prove because a guilty verdict is binding on the defendant," Ferlazzo stated. "But we don't need a guilty verdict in order to prevail. We will prevail no matter what. I'll guarantee you that. The question is the amount of damages."

Ferlazzo says he'd like to serve Shahen Hussain in the civil case but can't get to him in Pakistan.

Kindlon says Shahen has told him he'd come back to the United States if he's ever needed, but so far, no one has asked him to come back.

An agreement has been reached between the National Transportation Safety Board and Schoharie County's district attorney in their investigation into the Schoharie limousine crash.

The four-way agreement was reached in the courtroom of Judge George Bartlett.

The four parties involved are District Attorney Susan Mallery, New York State Police, Lee Kindlon, who represents Nauman Hussain – the defendant in the criminal case, and the NTSB.

For about four months, the NTSB has been trying to get access to the damaged limo because they want to do their own thorough, independent investigation.

The agreement allows NTSB investigators to go up to New York State Police headquarters where the limo is located to take a visual inspection -- including photographs and some scrapings, but not all scrapings.

The agreement also prohibits them from taking any brake fluid, because they say there's not enough brake fluid left.

Any results from the inspection done by the NTSB must be withheld until the end of the criminal case against Hussain, who was served with civil papers as he entered the Schoharie County Courthouse for this case.

The law firm of Girvin & Ferlazzo handed him papers on behalf of the family of Amanda Rivenburg, one of the victims in the crash.

So there will be dual cases involving Hussain – one for the criminal case and one for the civil lawsuit.

Credits

Dan Levy

Copyright 2019 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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