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Tuesday, July 23, 2024 | Back issues
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U.S. Liable for Dershowitz Relative’s Bike Death

MANHATTAN (CN) - The United States is "100 percent liable" for a Postal Service trailer crash that killed the sister-in-law of prominent attorney Alan Dershowitz on her bicycle, a federal magistrate ruled.

On July 2, 2011, retired Manhattan court employee Marilyn Dershowitz had been pedaling her bicycle down West 29th Street past Ninth Avenue around noon when a Postal Service truck slammed into her.

Ian Clement, the driver, later described the day in court as a "very pretty, sunny, nice Saturday" of Independence Day weekend with dry road conditions.

Both Marilyn and her husband, Nathan Dershowitz, Alan's brother, had been wearing helmets as the biked together down the road. It provided little protection from the 25-foot long, 8-foot wide, and 7 ton postal truck that ran over her seconds before noon.

A Manhattan jury later acquitted Clement of criminal wrongdoing, and Nathan Dershowitz brought a 2012 civil complaint against the government on his late wife's behalf.

On Wednesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn found that the driver "should have seen" Dershowitz on the road.

"The credible evidence introduced at trial all but requires the court to infer that Mr. Clement should have seen that which was there to be seen: Mrs. Dershowitz, biking continuously and calmly, hugging the right hand side of the roadway," Netburn's 70-page opinion states. "After passing Ninth Avenue, Mrs. Dershowitz was ahead of him by at least six seconds. Had Mr. Clement scanned the roadway through his large panoramic windshield or used his right side mirror, he would have seen her."

Netburn ordered the parties to compute a final award based on her future earnings, benefits and life expectancy.

Ben Rubinowitz, who represented the Dershowitz estate, said the decision provides vindication to a grieving family.

"Although the family is terribly saddened and heartbroken by the tragic death of Marilyn Dershowitz, they do feel vindicated that she was not found at fault in any way for the accident," Rubinowitz said in a phone interview.

The lawyer is a partner at the Manhattan-based firm Gair, Gair, Conason, Steigman, Mackauf, Bloom & Rubinowitz.

"The family always believed that Marilyn Dershowitz did nothing wrong, and indeed, that is what the court found."

The Department of Justice declined to comment.

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