New Jersey authorities sent a “disgraceful and obscene” notice to two grieving families – a lawsuit against them and their four loved ones killed in a terrible crash for damage the victims allegedly caused to the Turnpike.
The negligence suit, filed by lawyer William B. Ziff on behalf of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, demanded money from both the Ryan and Christmas families, who lost relatives – including a toddler – in a horrific August 2006 crash on the Turnpike near Teaneck.
The crash occurred after a tractor-trailer with bad brakes, carrying bricks and traveling at 70 mph, plowed into stalled traffic, smashing into a car driven by Theresa Christmas, 41.
Christmas was killed, as was her husband, Charles, 40, and daughter Victoria, 2, sources said. Another daughter, baby Theresa, survived the crash.
The truck then hit a car driven by Norma Ryan, 37, who also was killed.
All three dead adults, along with relatives, were named in the Turnpike Authority’s lawsuit seeking money for damage to the road’s infrastructure.
“This is disgraceful and obscene,” said lawyer Jeffrey Lisabeth, who represents Norma Ryan’s grieving husband, Allan Ryan, of Voorhees, NJ. The husband is suing the truck driver and others over his wife’s death.
“Mrs. Ryan must have bled on the roadway surface while she was being crushed by tons of bricks, and they want to charge her husband for the cleanup?” Lisabeth said.
The suit is “the most outrageous thing I have seen in a long time,” said lawyer Sam Davis, who represents orphaned crash survivor little Theresa Christmas, now 2, and her relatives in a separate civil suit against the truck driver and others.
After The Post called about the lawsuit, Ziff rushed out to Union County Superior Court and canceled it.
“It should not have happened,” said NJTA spokesman Joe Orlando. “It was a clerical error. We would like to apologize to the family.”
But the action now prevents any future claims from being brought by the authority against the truck driver, who officials say caused the deadly crash, as well as his firm.
As a result, money that may have been recovered for taxpayers will not be collected.
Your government at work. Nice.