Paul Cambria, a prominent Buffalo criminal defense attorney, was sought out by WBEN for his commentary on the possibility of a settlement in the civil wrongful-death trial of Dr. James Corasanti, who hit with his SUV and killed 18-year-old Alexandria Rice in 2011. At the time of the interview, a settlement had not yet been reached.
Click here for the full interview.
Parties can settle at any point
Asked if it would be surprising for a settlement to be reached in the third week of the trial, Mr. Cambria responded that it would not be surprising. “Civil cases most frequently settle,” he noted, “and settlement talks continue all through the process. A lot of them settle so-called ‘on the courthouse steps,’ and other settle after key witnesses have testified and one side or the other feels like their case got stronger or weaker, so it’s an evolving process.”
Compensatory versus punitive damages
Mr. Cambria discussed the types of damages that might be awarded. Compensatory damages, he pointed out, “are for pain and suffering and loss of income. Punitives [punitive damages] really are a matter of you did something reckless or wanton and you need to be punished, so now let’s come up with a number that actually punishes you.” He added, “That’s another, second kind of layer if you will of possible damages for reckless or wanton conduct.”
Ms. Rice’s parents are seeking compensatory damages for their daughter’s pain and suffering and for economic loss as well as punitive damages.
The probable outcome?
When questioned about how the trial was likely to proceed, Mr. Cambria said, “Who knows. We’re not in the room to hear what they’re talking about. If there is no settlement, they’ll continue to take testimony. If there is, [Judge Michalski] would simply announce to the jury that the matter has been resolved, and they’ll put on the record what the resolution is. Or in some cases, they may not put on the record what the details of the resolution are. It may be a confidential settlement, and they’ll just simply say ‘it’s settled’ without revealing the details of the settlement.”
As for the role the jury would play after a settlement is reached, Mr. Cambria said, “That would be it. They would be discharged, thanked for their service, and gone.”
Since this interview was completed, a settlement was reached. The amount of the settlement was not revealed under the terms of the parties’ confidential agreement.
A senior partner in Lipsitz Green’s Criminal Defense Trials and Appeals Practice Area, Mr. Cambria also advises clients on Constitutional and First Amendment law, zoning and land use, antitrust, and professional licensing defense. He practices in the firm’s Buffalo and Los Angeles offices.