Teen files suit after being hit by vehicle

As it appeared on The Citizens Voice

JAMES HALPIN

WILKES-BARRE — A teen who was hit by a pickup while crossing a city street earlier last year has filed a lawsuit against a Philadelphia engineering firm over “catastrophic injuries” she sustained, allegedly because of design flaws at a busy intersection.

Heather Zim filed the suit this week on behalf of her daughter, Hayleigh Zim, who was dragged more than a half mile after being hit by the pickup last year at the intersection of Wilkes-Barre Boulevard and Conyngham Avenue.

The suit, filed by the Kingston law firm Fellerman & Ciarimboli, alleges negligence on the part of Pennoni Associates, Inc. as well as Earl W. Armitage III, the company’s transportation division manager.

According to the complaint, Hayleigh and a friend had been walking to the friend’s house on Scott Street around 7 p.m. Dec. 23, 2017, when they crossed the intersection — which Pennoni designed on behalf of the City of Wilkes-Barre in November 2006.

The complaint said Hayleigh pushed the button to activate the crosswalk and waited to receive the “walking man” signal to cross the street. When the signal appeared, they began crossing Wilkes-Barre Boulevard, the complaint said.

At the same time, Matthew J. McCormack was traveling west on Conyngham Avenue and preparing to turn right onto Wilkes-Barre Boulevard, the complaint alleges. Observing a solid green light ahead, McCormack made the turn and then hit Hayleigh and her friend, the complaint alleges.

The friend was knocked to the ground, but Hayleigh was trapped under the truck and dragged more than a half mile before McCormack heard her screams and stopped, according to the lawsuit.

Upon discovering Hayleigh at the back of his truck, McCormack called 911. Hayleigh was taken by helicopter to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to be treated for severe injuries including numerous broken bones, a collapsed lung, organ damage and failure, extensive wounds, second- and third-degree burns and scrapes and bruises covering almost half her body, the complaint said.

According to court records, McCormack was never charged in connection with the accident.

The lawsuit contends Hayleigh’s nearly fatal injuries were the result of Pennoni’s design, which allowed the walk signal to appear at the same time as the steady green signal for traffic. The complaint accuses the law firm of “making the conscious choice to place the efficiency of the intersection over the safety of the individuals using it, thus prioritizing the importance of saving time over the importance of safe travel.”

“Mr. McCormack was legally given the right to proceed through the green light, and due to errors in the design of the intersection, did not see the minor plaintiff attempting to cross Wilkes-Barre Boulevard,” the lawsuit alleges. “Defendants … knew or should have known that the intersection they were designing would pose a danger to pedestrians and motorists due to defective design.”

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.

A spokesperson for Pennoni did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

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With more than 40 years of combined experience, the personal injury attorneys at Fellerman & Ciarimboli strive to provide the best service to clients in Philadelphia, Northeast Pennsylvania, and throughout the Keystone State.

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