By Robert Storace, Connecticut Law Tribune, STAMFORD, CT (August 2, 2019) — The estate of Ana Cristina Vomoca settled with defendants Jeffrey Bodnar and the companies that employed him as a driver—Food Haulers Inc. and its parent company Wakefern Food Corp. Vomoca died soon after the truck Bodnar was driving struck her car.
Attorneys for insurance carriers and for the estate of a 38-year-old woman who died soon after a 23,000-pound truck struck her car reached a $19.75 million settlement just as jurors were deliberating on the case.
Both sides informed the six-person jury in Stamford Superior Court at noon Friday that they had reached the settlement.
The jury, which heard five days of testimony, had been in its fourth hour of deliberations, according to Angelo Ziotas, one of the attorneys representing the estate of Cristina Vomoca. Ziotas is a partner with Stamford-based Silver Golub & Teitell.
According to Ziotas and the amended lawsuit filed July 29, defendant Jeffrey Bodnar was speeding in a truck, and had gone through a red light when he slammed into the driver’s side of Vomoca’s 2015 Maserati Ghibli.
Vomoca, who was coming home from her job at a Greenwich hair salon, died in November 2016, eight days after the accident. The incident occurred near the Interstate 95 ramp near Arch Street in Greenwich.
Bodnar is out on bail and faces manslaughter charges.
Vomoca’s passenger in the car was Mai Kobayaski, her best friend and a co-worker. Kobayaski survived but suffered brain damage. She settled with the insurance carriers for an undisclosed sum soon after the incident.
Paul Wilson, Vomoca’s boyfriend, filed a suit on behalf of the couple’s 4-year-old son, Oliver, who will receive the settlement money when he turns 18 years old.
“The Probate Court will supervise this,” Ziotas said. “The boy will get all of the money, but that does not make up for the loss of his mother.”
The attorney said he believed the defense agreed to settle during jury deliberations because “we had absolutely proven that Mr. Bodnar was not only negligent, but also reckless.”
Two eyewitnesses said they saw Bodnar go through the red light, according to Ziotas. One of them allegedly had cellphone images that showed Bodnar’s truck passing the red light. Plus, plaintiffs counsel said his team was able to use data downloaded from a black box on the truck to prove Bodnar was traveling 35 mph, when the speed limit on the ramp was 25 mph.
“We demonstrated, without any doubt, that the defendant was responsible, and that he blew the red light and was speeding on the ramp,” said Ziotas, who handled the litigation with co-counsel Marco Allocca and Sarah Ricciardi.
The defendants were Bodnar, and the companies that employed him as a driver, Food Haulers Inc., and its parent company, Wakefern Food Corp.
Representing the insurance carriers for the trucking companies was Christopher Sanetti, a partner with Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith in Hartford.
Sanetti did not respond to a request for comment, but in court pleadings, the defendants argued that the other side couldn’t prove that Bodnar had gone through the red light. It said the plaintiff relied on unreliable eyewitnesses.
The defense’s previous high offer was $9 million, Ziotas said.
But by toward the end of the trial, both sides were ready to conclude the litigation.
Ziotas said, “We were interested in resolving the case fully without having an appeal.”
Robert Storace covers legal trends, lawsuits and analysis for the Connecticut Law Tribune. Follow him on Twitter @RobertSCTLaw or reach him at 203-437-5950.