N.H. Jury Awards $2.6M in Car Crash Suit, Citing Engineers for Faulty Intersection Design

February 7, 2005

A New Hampshire jury has awarded nearly $2.6 million to the family of a man killed in a 1999 car crash, saying the firm that redesigned the intersection where it happened was partly at fault.

David DeBenedetto was killed when his pickup truck collided with a car driven by a 71-year-old woman who pulled into the intersection on Route 28 after getting frustrated by a traffic light that got stuck on red for at least five minutes.

The Rockingham County Superior Court jury agreed with DeBenedetto’s family that Manchester-based CLD Engineering Associates, which redesigned the intersection, was partly at fault.

“I’m just very happy with the verdict,” Janet DeBenedetto said. “It won’t bring David back, but it will help me support my family. I won’t have to worry about how to feed them next week.”

The jury placed 49 percent of the blame on the engineering company, 49 percent of the blame on the other driver and 2 percent on the state Department of Transportation. The company is considering an appeal, saying the crash was caused by the other driver, who ran a light and crossed five lanes of traffic before colliding with DeBenedetto.

“The jury returned a verdict against our client which we feel was in direct conflict with the actual evidence presented at the trial,” said Michael Hatem, the company’s lawyer. “The cause of the accident was the reckless conduct of Doris Christous, who ran a light and crossed five lanes of traffic without ever stopping before colliding with Mr. DeBenedetto. We do not believe the verdict will survive an appeal, and we’re reviewing all our options at this point.”

DeBenedetto’s suit claimed that CLD’s “defective” traffic control system caused a red light to become stuck in that position, leading Christous to get frustrated and pull into the intersection as DeBenedetto was approaching.

CLD denied negligence, saying its redesign is based on the directions of the Department of Transportation.

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