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Trial stems from 36 car crash
by Sean Carroll
Rochester, N.Y. --- Testimony began Thursday in a trial stemming from a 36 car pile-up on Interstate 390 in February 2008.
The crash occurred just north of the Scottsville Road exit near the end of a runway at the Rochester International Airport. Authorities blamed "white out" conditions caused by snow blown across the roadway on an otherwise clear and sunny day.
Many injuries were reported along with one fatality. Le Ngo, 17, was killed in the crash.
In New York State Supreme Court a jury of eight began to hear testimony in a civil trial accuses Monroe County and the Airport of causing that white out condition.
The plaintiffs include six victims in the crash including the family and estate of Ngo.
Their lawsuit accuses the county and airport of failing to notify and warn drivers of this potential condition and ignoring prior concerns or warnings about the condition. Construction underway at the airport during that time resulted in a landscape change and snow piled up in areas that would lend to this condition according to the Plaintiffs.
The construction resulted in the existing roadway, tunnel, and wall along the perimeter of the airport grounds that bored I-390 in that area. Following the crash the county erected a temporary snow fence and the lawsuit suggests it should have been in place prior to then.
Monroe County is defending itself and the Airport in this case. A county spokesman said he could not comment on ongoing litigation especially during the trial.
Lawyers for all parties involved in the case did not share any public comments.
The jury is deciding liability in this trial. If the plaintiffs are successful then a second trial could take place that determines what if any monetary damages should be awarded.
However appeals are likely and that could delay the process by years.
A second civil action naming New York State Asa defendant is currently pending in the Court of Claims. That litigation is not likely to proceed until this matter is resolved.
Testimony is expected to conclude next week. A local television meteorologist is expect edit to testify on behalf of Monroe County.