Settlement in deadly NYC ferry crash

August 25, 2008 5:11:53 PM PDT
The widow of a victim of a deadly ferry crash has settled a wrongful-death claim against the city for $8.7 million. Lawyers John Hession and James Ryan made the announcement Monday on behalf of Kathy Healy and her four children. Healy's husband, John Healy, died in the Oct. 15, 2003, tragedy aboard the Staten Island ferry.

A trial had been scheduled to start Monday in Brooklyn federal court.

A jury began hearing testimony on Monday in a separate suit brought by ferry rider James McMillan Jr. after settlement talks in his case failed. McMillan was left a quadriplegic by the accident and needs around-the-clock care.

The jurors are expected to make a recommendation on how much money he should receive in damages, with the final decision up to U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein.

The boat, with about 1,500 people aboard, crashed at full speed, killing 11 people. Its pilot was on painkillers and suffering from extreme fatigue.

Healy's is not the largest settlement; $9 million went to a victim who lost both legs.

The city's Law Department said it believed the Healy settlement was in the best interest of all parties.

"We recognize the pain suffered by Mr. Healy's family over his tragic passing," the Law Department said in a statement. "We hope the settlement brings them some measure of closure."

The city has settled 127 claims arising from the ferry crash for about $45.7 million, with 44 cases remaining, the Law Department said.

The ferry pilot, Assistant Capt. Richard Smith, pleaded guilty to negligent manslaughter and lying to investigators. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

The city ferry director, Patrick Ryan, was sentenced to a year in prison after pleading guilty to negligent manslaughter and admitting he failed to implement or enforce a rule requiring two pilots during docking.

The ferry carries about 60,000 passengers each weekday between Staten Island and lower Manhattan.

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