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Wayne Independent - Honesdale, PA
  • $2 mill settlement reached in fatal crash

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    HONESDALE - A $2, 050,000 million settlement has been reached in a wrongful death case of a woman who died after being hit by a pickup truck at 7th and Church streets.
    Ruthann Malti, 60, of Hawley, was struck by a Ford pickup truck operated by William Joseph as she tried to cross the street in March 2011.
    "It was always the position of the Malti family that the change to the one-way street configuration and misplacement of crosswalks led to this accident," said a news release issued Thursday by Munley Law, the Scranton firm representing Malti's estate.
    The case was filed against Joseph, PennDOT, the borough of Honesdale, Borton-Lawson, Leeward Construction Inc. and Parsons-Brinckerhoff LLC, an engineering firm from New York City who designed the roadway configuration.
    It was unclear Thursday afternoon how much each defendant is liable to pay.
    Borough Council President James Brennan said the borough has insurance liability coverage up to $1 million.
    Brennan declined further comment.
    Councilman Scott Smith said he was happy the case has come to a conclusion so the family does not have to relive the accident.
    As a result of the accident Malti suffered irreversible brain damage, which led to her death a few days later, according to the release.
    The estate's lawyers retained engineers who, after reviewing the Church Street Bridge project and the site, concluded the intersection was dangerous to pedestrians.
    Further review showed none of the supervisory entities, namely PennDOT, the borough and Parsons-Brinckeroff, took any action to remove the dangers and improve safety within the borough, despite numerous "ominous warnings and near misses prior to this accident."
    Lawyer Daniel Munley, in the release, said, "While no amount of financial compensation could ever make up for the loss of a loved one, the family of Ruthann Malti takes great comfort in knowing that since the filing of the lawsuit, changes have been made to improve pedestrian safety at that intersection.
    Page 2 of 2 - “It is our hope that these changes will prevent another senseless tragedy like this from happening to another family.”
    Improvements to borough intersections include the painting of crosswalks. Also, pedestrian operated crosswalk signs are being installed at 18 locations on Main and Church streets.
    Malti was struck at 3:30 p.m. March 22, 2011 by an F-350 Ford pickup driven by William Joseph Jr. of Honesdale.
    The lawsuit accused Joseph of operating the vehicle “in such a careless, reckless and negligent manner that he ran directly into Plaintiff’s Decedent, who was located in the crosswalk, with the front of his vehicle as she attempted to cross the street.
    "The force of this collision sent Ruth Ann Malti flying to the pavement, where she struck her head, suffering serious injuries which ultimately resulted in her premature demise.”
    Honesdale Borough, the suit charged, “marked the crosswalk and maintained the intersection where the Plaintiff’s decedent crossed the street, despite knowledge that directing pedestrians to cross the street at the point where the decedent crossed would expose such pedestrians to unreasonable danger.”
     

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