Updated 08/09/2011 07:01 PM
Father to sue city, county where three kids drowned
Lance Pierre, one of three children killed in the Newburgh Waterfront Tragedy, would have turned three-years-old a week and a half ago. His father says his family couldn't celebrate because of the negligence of others. Our Elaina Athans explains.
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NEWBURGH, N.Y. -- "It's a very sad situation obviously," said attorney Paul Brite.
A mother killed herself and her three children at the Newburgh waterfront and the childrens' father wants municipalities to pay for this tragedy. Jean Pierre is looking to hold the City of Newburgh and Orange County accountable and has filed notices of claim. Legal Analyst Paul Brite says this is the beginning of a long process.
"It's a tough road to hoe and it's just the first step in that," said Brite.
LaShanda Armstrong drove her minivan into the Hudson River in April. Pierre's lawyer, Michael O'Conner, says the city should have placed barriers or signs along the landing to stop her. Pierre's attorney also says the Department of Child Protective Service paid Armstrong a visit in February and "if the investigation was done properly, if there were follow-ups, and the children were spoken to, this tragedy was preventable."
Each claim seeks $40 million.
"People sue the county and the state because, the county and state have money. But that's the past," said Brite.
Going up against the County would be a tough fight to win, according to Brite. He says Pierre and his attorney would go into this lawsuit with a preset bias long before evidence is seen and arguments are made.
"The judges in the court of claims are appointed by the Governor of the State of New York and you're suing the State of New York and they're keenly aware of the fiscal crisis of the state at this time," said Brite.
The county is reviewing the claim. The City of Newburgh is not commenting. Pierre's legal representation plans to move forward and formally file lawsuits. It's something Brite can rationalize.
"I can understand his (Pierre's) anger as a parent myself," said Brite.