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Aug 7, 2012 3:59 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Mother of Hampton Bays Teen Killed By Drunk Driver Seeks Justice

Aug 8, 2012 11:58 AM

The mother of a Hampton Bays teen who was struck and killed by an accused drunk driver while riding his bicycle in 2009 said she is seeking the truth and justice—more than money—in a civil suit filed against the driver.

Edmond Chakmakian, the attorney for Dorothy Marino, whose 15-year-old son, Joseph Marino, was killed in August 2009, said the family was close to reaching a settlement of the lawsuit filed against Caroline Goss, the driver of the car. The settlement would eliminate the need for a lengthy civil trial, which had been set to begin today, August 9. Ms. Marino said on Tuesday that she plans to hold a press conference after the court proceedings.

Under the terms of the proposed settlement, Mr. Chakmakian said, Ms. Goss would pay $300 each month to the Marino family for the next 20 years, a total of $72,000. It would also require that she take the stand and stipulate that she was at fault in the accident—something she refused to do during her criminal trial.

While Mr. Chakmakian said a settlement had been reached, Ms. Goss’s attorney, Anthony Palumbo, said on Monday that the settlement deal has not been finalized.

“We’re hopeful that it will settle, but it’s not settled just yet,” he said, adding that he and his client would rather settle and avoid a trial, which would force the Marino family to relive the tragedy.

Mr. Chakmakian noted that during the deposition of the civil suit, Ms. Goss again seemed to blame Joseph for the accident, saying he swerved into the road on his bicycle, and she did not admit to being intoxicated at the time of the accident.

“All we ever wanted was the truth, that’s all,” Ms. Marino said last week. “And I had actually said to her at one point that if she had actually told the truth in the deposition, it would have been a done deal, and she didn’t.”

Also as part of the settlement, according to Mr. Chakmakian, Ms. Marino will receive a $100,000 auto insurance payout, half from Ms. Goss’s insurance and half from the Marinos’ insurance.

“It’s not about the money for my client,” he said. “[Ms. Marino] wanted the woman to think about her son every time she wrote a check.”

On the night of August 12, 2009, Ms. Goss, 37, a registered nurse from Mattituck, struck Joseph, who was riding his bicycle on Ponquogue Avenue in Hampton Bays. Joseph was airlifted to Stony Brook University Medical Center, where he died the next day without regaining consciousness.

Police reported that Ms. Goss’s blood-alcohol level was 0.13 percent when her car struck Joseph. Riding in the passenger seat was Ms. Goss’s 6-year-old son.

In 2010, prosecutors in the criminal case struck a plea deal with Ms. Goss in which she pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter in exchange for a lessened sentence. It might have been difficult to convict Ms. Goss without the deal because witness statements and accident reconstruction showed that it was possible that Joseph did, in fact, swerve into the road before Ms. Goss’s vehicle struck him, according to Robert Clifford, a spokesman for District Attorney Thomas Spota.

Ms. Goss also pleaded guilty to charges of DWI and endangering the welfare of a child, both misdemeanors, and driving with an open container of alcohol in her vehicle, a violation. She was sentenced to six months in jail and five years of probation.

In a letter hand-delivered to Ms. Marino last Thursday, August 2, Ms. Goss backed away from her earlier testimony, blaming the accident on the teen swerving into her path, and took responsibility for the accident.

Of her testimony, Ms. Goss wrote in the letter: “I never wanted to blame your son; he was only doing what kids do. I was wrong and can never forgive myself.”

Ms. Goss wrote that she was attempting to bring something positive out of the tragedy by speaking on her own to students about the consequences of drunk driving.

“My hope is that you will find forgiveness in your heart someday,” Ms. Goss wrote. She added that although she wished she had more money to offer them, as the sole provider for two sons, paying $500 a month, a figure originally requested by the Marino family in the negotiations, would force her to work three jobs in order to stay in her home.

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