A jury award and an out-of-court settlement totaling $1.5 million have been reached benefiting the family of a Rockville man killed 3 1/2 years ago when a truck rigged with a snow plow collided with his car.
The early morning accident in December 1982 killed Srinivasa Rangaswamy, a 50-year-old India-born physicist who owned a firm in Greenbelt. He was driving to work and was attempting to make a left turn from West Kersey Lane near his home on to Great Falls Road when his car collided with a Montgomery County dump truck fitted with the plow, according to the family's suit filed in Montgomery County Circuit Court.
The plow pierced the car's windshield, and Rangaswamy suffered head and chest injuries, according to the suit. Rangaswamy was pronounced dead on arrival at Suburban Hospital.
The suit also alleged that Rangaswamy's view was blocked by a Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. truck parked near the intersection.
On Wednesday, a jury returned a $2.5 million verdict for Rangaswamy's family, with half to be paid by Valk Manufacturing of Carlisle, Pa., which made the snow plow, according to Shirley Raposo, attorney for the family.
"It's a matter of strict product liability against Valk, because they could have or should have known that the accident would cause Mr. Rangaswamy's death," Raposo said.
Officials of Valk could not be reached for comment yesterday.
The other half of the jury award was to be paid by the phone company, but it had already agreed to a $250,000 settlement with the family and so was not affected by the verdict. The jury had not been told of the settlement, which specified that the phone company did not admit liability for the accident.
The Montgomery County government, owner of the truck, had been an initial defendant, but Judge Richard Latham ruled that it was not responsible for the accident and dismissed it from the case.
The $1,250,000 from the Valk company and the $250,000 from the phone company will be shared by Rangaswamy's widow Radha and his son Arun, Raposo said.