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Attorneys: Katie Flynn's Family Settles Suit

Parents and grandparents of Lido Beach girl killed in drunken driving crash reportedly awarded $1.3M.


An attorney for the family of Katie Flynn, the 7-year-old Lido Beach girl who was killed in a drunken driving crash in 2005, announced Wednesday that he had reached a settlement in a lawsuit against Martin Heidgen, the convicted driver, and the limousine company, U.S. Limousine Service, in which the girl and her family were riding in.

Katie and her parents, Neil and Jennifer Flynn, and her grandparents, Christopher and Denise Tangney of Long Beach — who were all in the limousine at the time of the crash and who sued Heidgen and the Mineola-based limousine company for damages in State Supreme Court in Mineola — settled for a reported $1.3 million, according to Newsday

Christopher McGrath, the family’s attorney from Garden City, said:

"There is no way that any lawyer could ever compensate this family for all they went through.”

In October 2006, after a five-week trial, Heidgen was convicted of second-degree murder and driving drunk in a pickup truck traveling in the wrong direction on the Meadowbrook Parkway on July 2, 2005. His vehicle slammed into the limousine that was carrying Katie, her family and driver Stanley Rabinowitz, 59, of Farmingdale, who was also killed in the crash. They were heading home from a wedding in which Katie was the flower girl.

Police said Heidgen's blood-alcohol content registered .28 percent, well above the legal limit of .08 percent. He is serving a prison sentence of 18 years to life for the crime.

* This story was update at 9:54 on 1.20.12.

Brendan January 20, 2012 at 02:29 PM
As I understand it, suing the limo company is really more like suing the limo company's insurance company, who is liable for certain things no matter what the circumstances. The limo company itself isn't really being sued - there isn't any other way to make a claim on the insurance but to sue - I think - I'm not a lawyer, but that's my understanding. Not that I'm making excuses for this stuff, either. The way that Martin kid was railroaded for his crime while so many other drunk drivers kill people and walk away with much lighter charges and sentences is a farce. It really does make you realize that there are some people in this world who, because they are connected, are going to get a better shake than you when push comes to shove. It isn't right and it isn't fair. They lynched that man and it is despicable.
anonymous January 20, 2012 at 02:36 PM
Do you know what happens when your insurance company gets sued? Your insurance goes up. And that is a PENALTY. The family is WRONG for taking a dime from anyone or anything associated with the limo company. If that's the case why not sue the estate of the dead driver, Stanley Rabinowitz? Or are the bloodsucking lawyers still working on that?
Brendan January 20, 2012 at 02:49 PM
I believe his estate was also sued during this process but I don't remember where I saw that so I don't have anything to back that up.
Misty January 20, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Bitter, party for one...
anonymous January 20, 2012 at 02:58 PM
I searched Google and couldn't find anything that says his estate was being sued. I would hope it isn't because he is a victim as well.
anonymous January 20, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Since when did a question of right or wrong devolve into bitterness, Misty? I'm asking valid questions to which your only answer seems to be "just because." "Just because" they were the victims of a crime and lost a loved one it's morally and ethically okay for them to sue an innocent, non responsible party who is also a victim? Really? Don't be a sycophant, Misty....it's not becoming.
Sharon S. Stockdale January 20, 2012 at 03:24 PM
During a personal injury lawsuit, it's the court's job to decide who is at fault and to what extend. The injured party has to sue all vehicles involved in order to get to the party who is responsible. Then it's up to the court to decide 1. if they deserve compensation, 2. how much, 3. who pays and 4. what percentage each involved party pays (based on that party's percentage of liability). The Flynn family had no choice but to sue the limo company.
anonymous January 20, 2012 at 03:37 PM
They may not have a choice who to sue (which just goes to show you how screwed up our laws are) but they do have a choice whether or not to accept the money. Do we know who the judge is who presided over this?
Misty January 20, 2012 at 04:10 PM
I can't believe you don't know basic motor vehicle accident law. I'm sure if you've never been in a car accident, you know someone who has been. You said that the family suing doesn't sit well with you. Well, who is supposed to pay for all of their injuries that will last for the rest of their lives? Someone is being held responsible and that is the limo company's insurance company. Do you understand now?
Allen Sinowitz January 20, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Hasn't this family gone through enough grief in losing a child? Although the settlement is significant, it will never relieve them of the grief and despair they will know the rest of their lives. May the strength of this family's love for one another help them through each passing day. God bless each and every member of the Flynn family
Candygram for Mongo January 20, 2012 at 04:27 PM
but....its.....in.....the......law
Candygram for Mongo January 20, 2012 at 04:28 PM
you should write your local congressman
anonymous January 20, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Quoting Misty... "Well, who is supposed to pay for all of their injuries that will last for the rest of their lives? Someone is being held responsible and that is the limo company's insurance company. Do you understand now?" No...and clearly neither do you. The only person who is responsible for this accident is currently in prison and should pay whatever monetary damages that are possible even if that means he lives under a bridge for the rest of his life if/when he ever gets out of prison. But this foolish notion that the limo company (who also had an employee KILLED) is somewhat responsible just proves your (and our lawmaker's) stupidity, Misty. They didn't do anything wrong and now will be forced to pay more for insurance (that's called being penalized, Misty) and will be lucky if the premiums allow them to stay in business. What happens if they go out of business and good people lose their jobs, Misty? Are they moving in with you? Are you going to pay for everyone's expenses while they are unemployed? Why does this attitude of entitlement come from where people think they can punish innocent people? Please give us all your name, address and phone number, Misty so that we can sue you for everything and anything that we can think of because, according to you, that is perfectly acceptable. You're an idiot, Misty and it's your mindset that is ruining our society and creating dysfunctional, entitled, monsters.
anonymous January 20, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Yes, but to punish a perfectly viable business who lost an employee through no fault of his own compounds it.
anonymous January 20, 2012 at 04:41 PM
Pete's a lawyer. Enough said.
anonymous January 20, 2012 at 04:44 PM
And yes, Misty...I was only in one accident in my life and it was not my fault. The other driver who was at fault paid for the damage to my car and that was more than enough for me.
LB13 January 20, 2012 at 04:55 PM
As a business who operates a limo company, I am sure they are well versed in motor vehicle law and have the proper insurance in place to cover such a tragedy. That is what insurance is there for, and why it is required by everyone driving a motor vehicle. Medical bills following an accident can be astronomical, and the person/people involved usually have little choice but to sue -- and again, as it has been pointed out several times, they are suing the insurance company, not the limo company directly. Yes their premium will go up -- it probably already has, as it does every time you are in an accident, regardless of whether or not you are sued. That is just how insurance works. It is very big (and easy) of you to hypothetically say you would refuse the money despite facing potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills, but thankfully you are not unfortunate enough to have to be faced with that decision. These people have been through more than any family should have to, to try and paint them as selfish or entitled or anything negative because they have followed standard procedure following an automobile accident is cruel and unnecessary. Hopefully none of their family members have bothered to read your posts, and hopefully you never find yourself in a similar situation.
Misty January 20, 2012 at 04:57 PM
Hey anonymous, give me your name, address and phone number so I can knock the stupid out of you. I don't make up the laws. It's just the way it is. The truth is that the Flynn's hired the limo company to get them to an event and then back home. The limo company did not do what they agreed to do in the signed contract. Just because this is what happened does not mean that I am advocating the way the law is written. The whole thing sucks all around.
anonymous January 20, 2012 at 05:06 PM
Quoting Misty Item One... "Hey anonymous, give me your name, address and phone number so I can knock the stupid out of you." Typical monosyllabic, neanderthal. Can't debate intelligently so you resort to threats of physical violence. And I would give you my address but all of those numbers and letters may hurt your teeny little brain and I don't believe in torturing people with disabilities. Quoting Misty Item Two "I don't make up the laws. It's just the way it is" And that's the attitude that has allowed millions (if not billions) of people to be enslaved and slaughtered by genocidal maniacs throughout history. How very 1930's German of you...
anonymous January 20, 2012 at 05:08 PM
As a business owner are you really okay with that? At what point do the premiums put you out of business? And can we also ask, if this is so painful for everyone, why all the publicity? Couldn't this have been accomplished without a press release?
Brendan January 20, 2012 at 05:58 PM
And now anonymous has Godwin'd the thread: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law
Candygram for Mongo January 20, 2012 at 06:06 PM
Well played, Brendan. Well played indeed.
Lloyd January 20, 2012 at 06:23 PM
Guess which defendant had the deeper pockets and higher insurance coverage? Thats the only thing lawyers care about. Forget morality. Theres no money in that.
anonymous January 20, 2012 at 06:25 PM
I would have made reference to Ratko Mladic, Radislav Krstic, or even Pol Pot but you have to know your target audience, right?
Brendan January 20, 2012 at 06:34 PM
I should say that I don't disagree with everything you're saying, anonymous. The exploitation of this tragic event has been a bit on the tasteless side, especially from my perspective that wants to know this: Had the victims been of a different ilk...would Martin even be in jail? Let alone with the rest of his life in almost unrecoverable dire straits?
laocoon January 20, 2012 at 07:12 PM
There is lots of misinformation and lies here. A plaintiff can sue who he wants to sue. No law states he "has to sue the limo company". Only an ignorant person would claim that. Unfortunately "suing everybody" is business as usual for the self-absorbed self-serving who want the most money for their losses. That's all it is. Greed. Someone out for justice and not for cash would have never sued the owner of this limousine and the estate of the limo driver, unless they truly felt the owner and driver were at fault and were partly responsible for their loss. What is not reported here is that the Flynns and the Tagneys obviously felt that the limo driver was at fault and that he could have avoided the accident. They also felt the limo driver was at fault for permitting Katie to lay down in the seat with a seat belt on -- an action which was probably an indirect cause of her death. Taking a large sum of cash from the driver's heirs and the owners of the limo was comforting and enriching to them. Or they would not have done it. To say otherwise, to spout nonsense about make believe "laws" is simply ignorance.
Eddie January 20, 2012 at 07:16 PM
Anonymous and Laoccon are correct. This lawsuit reflects a despicable behavior typical of that bred in Long Beach. Rest in peace, Little Katie. I pray for your soul every day.
Lucy Centeno January 20, 2012 at 07:41 PM
The laws are twisted. We, the people, are suppose to follow them. If they are wrong, WE should change them. Contact your representatives to make changes. The driver was killed and so was the little girl. Families have been torn apart emotionally. I can not see how anyone could get the picture of that child, BEHEADED, out of their head. EVER! That jailed monster did that and, I agree, HE or his estate should pay. I am not positive, but a paralegal friend of mine said that the lawyers for the limo company will now go after this monsters insurance company and anything else he has. Although the premiums still went up, lawyers will try to make them whole again. Anonymous, I agree with most of what you said, but I also agree with Misty. The law is the law until it is changed for the right reasons, hence, fair to everyone involved. The money, however, is really the only compensation the law has to offer. They can not bring these people back or take away the emotional and pictoral pain this family has endured. That being said, my deepest condolences to these families and may GOD be your counselor in life.
Misty January 20, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Yes, Lucy and when the limo company's insurance company goes after the insurance company of Martin Heidgen it is called subrogation. This is to get back what they have awarded to Flynn family. You're the only one who seems to understand. It's a very simple concept. I too have the deepest sympathies for the Flynn's and Tangney's and whatever they got it still is not enough for the pain they have gone through and will go through for the rest of their lives.
laocoon January 20, 2012 at 08:32 PM
There is only one of two reasons for suing the Limo company or its driver. Either: 1. The plaintiffs felt they did something wrong and are at fault, or 2. They felt they were more likely to get money from an upstanding driver's family and a business owner than from Martin Heidgen, and were greedy and didn't care who paid them. Anyone who feels "the law" required the money be taken from the limo driver's survivors is either ignorant or stupid. Typical Long Beach scum: "I'll get it wherever I can".

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