ALBANY — Long postponed discovery proceedings in lawsuits filed over the October 2018 Schoharie limousine disaster which killed 20 people are expected to finally move forward over the coming months.
A 180 day stay in any legal proceedings involving Global Liberty Insurance Company of New York was ordered in state Supreme Court in Suffolk County after the insurer of commercial vehicles was placed into liquidation under state Insurance Law on Oct. 13.
The insurer agreed in court filings to be liquidated by the state after it was determined to be insolvent, owing over $30 million as of December 2020.
The distribution of the company’s assets is being overseen by Adrienne Harris, superintendent of the state Department of Financial Services.
Days after liquidation was ordered, Global Liberty deposited $481,756 with the state Supreme Court in Albany to discharge its liability in the Schoharie limo accident.
The sum to be split among the surviving relatives of the 20 victims represents the company’s $500,000 policy limit for bodily injury accidents less $18,243 in attorneys fees.
Global Liberty was the insurer for claims against Nauman Hussain, the operator of Prestige Limousine.
Prestige was the company hired to transport a group of 17 friends to a birthday celebration in Cooperstown.
All 17 passengers, the limo driver, and two bystanders in the parking lot of the Apple Barrel Country Store were killed at the intersection of routes 30 and 30A in Schoharie when the vehicle suffered catastrophic brake failure on Oct. 6, 2018.
Nauman Hussain has been accused of failing to maintain the vehicle and pleaded guilty to 20 counts of criminally negligent homicide as part of an agreement that avoids prison time.
However, he is now compelled to provide sworn depositions and testimony in civil litigation filed against him and several other defendants by surviving families of the victims in state Supreme Court in Albany.
The stay in legal proceedings involving Global Liberty is set to expire on April 10, allowing discovery to finally move forward for lawsuits over the Schoharie limo disaster.
State Supreme Court Judge Denise Hartman on Thursday proposed depositions in the lawsuits be scheduled beginning in July through October.
Despite the ongoing stay order, Nauman Hussain already gave a limited deposition in the civil cases on Feb. 11 authorized by the state Supreme Court in Suffolk County with the consent of Harris and the New York Liquidation Bureau.
The 90-minute videotaped deposition was limited to testimony from Nauman Hussain on the involvement of his uncle, Malik Riaz Hussain, in financing or operating the limo business.
The proceeding followed attempts by attorneys for Malik Riaz Hussain to have their client dismissed as a defendant from the civil suits. Nauman Hussain stated that his uncle did not operate Prestige and had no financial interest in it.
Malik Riaz Hussain previously claimed he had no interest in Prestige or a motel operated by his brother Shahed and his sons, Nauman and Shaher, in a deposition conducted remotely from Pakistan on May 27.
Shahed Hussain, the owner of Prestige, was in Pakistan at the time of the crash and has not returned to the United States. He is named as a defendant in the lawsuits.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs filed letters stating they had no opposition to the dismissal of Malik Riaz Hussain from the lawsuits with the court earlier this month.
Hartman granted a motion dismissing cases against Malik Riaz Hussain on Thursday.
Reach Ashley Onyon at [email protected] or @AshleyOnyon on Twitter.
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Categories: Fulton Montgomery Schoharie, News