The family of Rebecca Annitto formally filed a lawsuit against the township of West Windsor and other defendants seeking damages after the 14-year-old Princeton resident was killed in a collision on Alexander Road on September 14, 2005.##M:[more]##
The lawsuit claims West Windsor “knew or should have known of a dangerous condition in or around the roadway and failed to protect against said dangerous condition.” The site of the accident, commonly known as the Alexander Road “S” Curve, ranks number two on the township’s list of places prone to traffic accidents.
Township Attorney Michael Herbert said a township cannot be held liable for an accident. Albert Stark, attorney for the Annitto family, says otherwise. “They created a dangerous condition, and there is no law that gives townships immunity from being held responsible for their roadways.”
Herbert pointed to a law that states that “Neither the public entity nor a public employee is liable under this chapter for an injury caused by the plan or design of public property.”
Stark could sue the township according to a law that states, “a public entity shall be liable for injury proximately caused by its failure to provide emergency signs.”
""There was signage before the accident indicating that it would be slippery. There was an additional sign put up after the accident. Clearly there was a lack of control by somebody,"" said Herbert. The township has added more signage since the incident.
At the time of the accident, Annitto was a passenger in a car driven by Katharine Thompson, a 17-year-old Princeton resident. Thompson was driving two other girls home as well. The roadway was wet and covered with leaves at the time and Thompson’s car was hit by two other cars, one driven by Lizzy Everett, a juvenile, and another by John Weeren. Weeren and the parents of the other drivers were also named as defendants.
Katherine Thompson was given a citation for violating the restrictions of her provisional license, which prohibits drivers under 18 from having more than one minor as a passenger in her car. Annitto was the only fatality caused by the accident. The Oscar-nominated film ""Little Miss Sunshine"" was dedicated in Annitto’s memory. Her uncle, Peter Saraf, was the film’s co-producer. Rebecca Annitto appeared in the movie as an extra.
""That kid had a fabulous future in front of her,"" said Stark. He says the he is prepared for the case to go to court, and that the case will most likely commence in a year and a half.