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Suit Filed Against City of Boston for '09 Truck Crash

Suit Filed Against City of Boston for '09 Truck Crash

Insurers of the Huntington Avenue building hit by a runaway Boston firetruck in January 2009 are suing for $410,000.

Boston Globe via YellowBrix

January 07, 2011

BOSTON – The City of Boston and six truck maintenance shops have been sued for their alleged roles in allowing a 49,000-pound firetruck to go out on the road with faulty brakes, leading it to plunge down a hilltop street two years ago, killing a firefighter and damaging a Mission Hill apartment complex.

The lawsuit was filed by Federal Insurance Company, the firm that had insured the housing complex that was hit by the out-of-control firetruck on Jan. 9, 2009. The company is seeking to recover more than $410,000 that it has paid out for repairs, as well as attorney fees.

In the lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Suffolk Superior Court, the property insurer alleges the defendants were negligent in overseeing the truck’s brakes, so that it was “unable to stop during normal operation.’’ An internal Fire Department inquiry last year blamed inadequate maintenance as one reason for the catastrophic brake failure.

Lawyers for Federal Insurance did not return phone calls yesterday.

This is the second civil lawsuit filed in connection with the firetruck crash in the past two months. In November, the family of Boston Fire Lieutenant Kevin M. Kelley filed a wrongful death suit against the same vehicle repair and inspection companies. Kelley died when Ladder 26 raced down Parker Hill Avenue in Mission Hill, crashing through a brick wall and into a building on Huntington Avenue.

The family’s lawsuit did not, however, name the City of Boston because Kelley’s estate settled separately and quickly with the city for $100,000, said Dot Joyce, a spokeswoman for Mayor Thomas M. Menino. There is a $100,000 cap on such negligence cases against a municipality, said the family’s lawyer, James Byrne of Boston.

Joyce said yesterday the city lawyers had yet to see the suit filed by Federal Insurance.

Meanwhile, several of the truck repair firms defended their work, while others could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Philip D’Angelo, owner of Broadway Brake Corp. in Somerville, said his longtime family-run business was named only because it had inspected the brakes about a year before the accident. He said the brakes were in good working order then, and his company is blameless in the accident.

“We did our job — I’ll stand by that,’’ he said.

D’Angelo added that he was deeply saddened by the tragedy and hopes the city makes changes to prevent any further problems.

“I feel bad for the man who was killed,’’ he said. “That should never have happened. That truck was in trouble before it went down the hill.’’

Damian Frattasil, owner of Damian Diesel of Avon, said he feels great sympathy for the Kelley family, though he is confident his business will be held blameless, particularly, he said, because the brake work he did was completed long before the accident.

But since lawyers added his company to the lawsuit, “we’ll deal with it,’’ Frattasil said.

The other defendants are Bay State Auto Spring of Roxbury; Boston Freightliner of Everett; Suspension Specialists of Allston; and Woodward’s Auto Spring Shop of Brockton.