Judge: Plaintiffs may have case for punitive damages in Clinton County I-80 wreck

The plaintiffs have won a preliminary round in a federal lawsuit that stems from a 2012 accident in which steel coils fell off a tractor-trailer truck on Interstate 80 in Lamar Township.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Martin C. Carlson on Monday found that the claims of Carol G. and Herbert S. Diamond, of Lenox, Mass., might ultimately support punitive damages.

Carlson recommended that federal Judge Matthew W. Brann deny a defense motion to dismiss the punitive damages claim. Whether the Diamonds eventually prove they are entitled to punitive damages is not before the court at this time, he wrote.

The Diamonds claim that at about 10:20 a.m. on April 19, 2012, they were traveling east on the interstate when a truck driven by Erwin J. Adams, of Hempstead, N.Y., struck the rear of a slow-moving rig.

The impact caused steel coils to fall onto the highway, and the Diamonds’ car hit one of them, the complaint stated. Another vehicle struck the rear of the Diamonds’ car. Both Diamonds were injured.

The complaint alleges that Adams failed to observe until too late the slow-moving rig with its hazard lights flashing because he allegedly reached down to pick up a piece of paper in front of him.

Adams is a defendant along with Center Two Holdings Inc., of Amityville, N.Y., and Consolidated Lumber Transport Inc. and/or JRC Transportation Inc., of Thomaston, Conn., the owners of the two trucks. Adams was driving for Consolidated Lumber.