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SKETCHES OF COURT: Jury finds Jasmine Limo fully responsible in car accident trial

February 11, 2016 By Alba Acevedo Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Court sketch by Alba Acevedo
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In this courtroom sketch, Hon. Karen Rothenberg listens as attorney Douglas Hoffer (standing), of the law firm Dansker & Aspromonte, conducts a cross-examination of a co-defendant during the bifurcated motor vehicle accident trial Grefstad et al v. Jasmine Limo, Inc. et al. The witness on the stand is a bus driver for the NYC Transit Authority. Court reporter Lisa Dimino (center) records the proceedings. 

On a sunny weekday morning in December of 2011 at about 8 a.m., the B63 bus was travelling southbound on Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn. Two of the passengers were standing, waiting to disembark at the next stop. On the bus driver’s left, a school crossing guard was shepherding children through the 92nd Street crosswalk. On his right, he noticed an approaching eastbound livery service car. The bus driver claims he had the green light. 

At issue in the trial was the determination of liability in the collision that followed. Bright sun glare was brought into question, per the crossing guard’s testimony and from the police accident report taken at the scene, though seemingly conflicting statements were made by the limo driver as to whether he had the sun in his eyes. Steven Balson-Cohen, of the law firm Russo & Toner, represented the limo service and driver. The bus and its driver were represented by Daniel Schneider, outside counsel to the Transit Authority.

Three plaintiffs claimed injuries in the accident. Marion Grefstad, 59, “went flying” per Hoffer, from the front toward the back of the bus. Zhi-Xiong Guan, in his 50s, was thrown against the farebox. He is represented by Robert Stein, of the law firm Caesar and Napoli. Nicole Matulewich, 38, was a backseat passenger in the car who was flung forward. She is represented by Jamie Kauget, of the law offices of Gary P. Kauget. 

The attorneys sought to at least partially implicate the Transit Authority, arguing that its experienced driver, having seen the limo approaching without decelerating, could have done more to avoid the accident. 

The jury deliberated briefly before finding 100 percent liability against Jasmine Limo. Seated at left and behind Hoffer, from foreground to background, are the plaintiffs’ attorneys Robert Stein and Jamie Kauget, and the defendants’ attorneys Steven Balson-Cohen and Daniel Schneider. With the exception of Schneider, all have pending post-trial motions. 

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