NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (CN) - The family of a young woman who froze to death in January says Connecticut state Rep. James O'Rourke may have been the last person to see her alive. The late Carol Sinsigalli's family seeks punitive damages from the eight-term lawmaker, for negligence and recklessness.
Sinsigalli's family also sued Digger McDuff's, the Cromwell, Conn. bar from which O'Rourke drove Sinisgalli on Jan. 21.
According to the Superior Court complaint:
O'Rourke arrived at Digger McDuff's around 11 p.m. that night. Shortly after arriving he saw a disturbance between Sinsigalli and another patron.
Sinsigalli was thrown out of the bar without her shoes and purse. The police were called and were on their way when Sinsigalli got into O'Rourke's vehicle and asked for a ride home.
O'Rourke agreed even though he didn't know where Sinsigalli lived. At around 12:10 a.m. on Jan. 22, Sinsigalli left O'Rourke's vehicle without her shoes and headed toward a residential neighborhood. The temperature was 14 degrees. Rather than make sure she made her way safely home, O'Rourke left.
A cross-country skier found Sinsigalli's frozen body at 4:45 p.m. on Jan. 22, near the railroad tracks, not far from where she left O'Rourke's vehicle, the Sinisgallis say.
Sinsigalli's mother and sister claim O'Rourke should have known Carol Sinisgalli was incapable of finding her way home and was in danger, with neither shoes nor jacket on the cold night.
New Britain State's Attorney Scott Murphy found insufficient evidence to charge O'Rourke, and determined that O'Rourke "did not assume a duty to protect Ms. Sinisgalli by agreeing to drive her home."
After Sinisgalli stumbled away from his car, "O'Rourke claimed that he did not call the police because he believed that she was near her home and knew where she was going," Murphy said in a statement.
"Whether his conclusion was reasonable, given the totality of the circumstances then known to him, is questionable," Murphy added. "However, because Mr. O'Rourke did not have a legal obligation to protect Ms. Sinisgalli, his failure to call the police cannot be the basis for a finding of criminal negligence."The Sinisgallis demand punitive damages from O'Rourke and from the bar. They are represented by Pamela Levin Cameron with Sinoway, McEnery, Messey and Sullivan of North Haven.
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