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City of Buffalo nears $2.25M settlement with family of child killed in Route 198 accident

The City of Buffalo’s Law Department recommends the Buffalo Common Council approve a $2.25 million settlement with the Sugorovskiy family.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Just over six years ago, an awful tragedy occurred in the City of Buffalo. A driver on the Scajaquada Expressway veered off the road and crashed into a family that was walking at Delaware Park. Maksym Sugorovskiy, who was 3-years-old, was killed and his sister, who was five years old, was seriously injured and their mother was also injured in the crash.

After the crash, the Sugorovskiy family sued the City of Buffalo, Erie County, and the driver.

The City of Buffalo’s Law Department is now recommending that Buffalo Common Council members approve a $2.25 million settlement with the Sugorovskiy family. The settlement was approved by lawmakers during a claims committee virtual meeting on Monday, but still needs to be approved by the full council. It’s possible this could happen as soon as Tuesday.

The settlement also needs to be approved by Erie County Supreme Court Judge E. Jeannette Ogden, who has been presiding over this case. Mark Cantor, an attorney for the Sugorovskiy family, earlier said he expected the judge's approval later on Monday but the family's attorneys now say the judge's approval cannot come until after the full council approves the settlement.

In a release, the family's representatives, attorneys Mark Cantor and David Wolff of Cantor, Wolff, Nicastro & Hall, along with attorney Linda Marsh said settlements have also been reached with the State of New York, Olmsted Parks Conservancy and the driver of the car who struck the child. The settlement with the state was approved by Judge Michael E. Hudson of the NYS Court of Claims in December, 2020.

The fatal accident prompted changes to the road that are still in place today. Immediately after the crash, Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered that the speed limit be lowered from 50 mph to 30 mph. In addition, guardrails were installed and new signage was put in place.

For years, attorneys for the Sugorovskiy family have argued that the city did nothing to ensure guardrails were installed, even though the city knew guardrails needed to be put along Route 198.

As time has passed, many drivers have grown frustrated over the speed limit on Route 198 saying that it is not fast enough. There have also been many proposals about what to do with the expressway and whether it should remain the same or be turned into a parkway or something else.

The civil case has also developed, with Erie County no longer a defendant in the case and Buffalo Olmsted Conservancy being named.

Daniel Meyer, a spokesperson for the Erie County Executive’s Office said in a statement: 

“We have no official comment on this settlement as Erie County has not been involved with these proceedings in nearly five years. Erie County had outside counsel and that entity moved to dismiss the case in 2016. Judge Ogden granted that motion, meaning that Erie County has not been involved since that time.”

The driver was never criminally charged. After a DMV hearing, it was determined that the driver suffered from narcolepsy and fell asleep at the wheel. Former Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita decided not to press charges and determined that the crash was an accident. After the crash, the driver’s license was suspended.

The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy issued the following statement today without referencing its part of the settlement with the family.

“The Conservancy extends its continued sympathies for the Sugorovskiy family and the devastating tragedy they will forever feel. While this settlement and its insured elements will never make the family whole, we hope it can continue to help them heal.”

The family of Maksym Sugorovskiy does not wish to comment on the settlement. They remain committed to honoring Maksym's memory and healing from their loss. 

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