Drunk Drivers Class Action Against Breathalyzer Maker Dismissed By Third Circuit

An appeals court has ruled that the plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit which was filed against Draeger Safety Diagnostics Inc. didn’t succeed to adequately plead a plausible claim.

According to an opinion filed on 9th of December in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, the appeal was argued on 20th of November. The panel gave the decision that they support the district court’s decision to dismiss the class action complaint due to causes that differ in part from those of the district court.

Circuit judges D. Brooks Smith, Thomas M. Hardiman and Maryanne Trump Barry voted in the majority, with Barry authoring the opinion.

It was stated in the opinion, “Plaintiffs contend that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine does not preclude their claims because they were not parties to the Chun case and are not seeking to overturn it or their DWI convictions. We agree with the District Court that Rooker-Feldman precludes the exercise of jurisdiction over plaintiffs’ design defect claim, but conclude that their fraud claim does not fall within its scope”.

In the year 2013, the plaintiffs, Bobby Johnson and Edwin Aguaiza, filed their class action lawsuit in April in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.

The plaintiffs were taken into custody as they were suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol, Johnson in February 2010 and Aguaiza in June 2011. Both had given breath samples for intoxication tests using Draeger’s Alcotest 7110 MKIII-C device, which showed a BAC about 0.08%.

The men pleaded guilty to DWI due to which their driving privileges were suspended and they had to pay fines.

Draeger moved to dismiss the class action based on Rooker-Feldman and argued as well that the plaintiffs had not succeeded in providing requisite elements of both their product liability and fraud claims.

The district court granted the motion.

The court ruled that the source of the injury targeted by the plaintiffs’ New Jersey Product Liability Act claim is the state courts’ evidentiary rulings in their Driving While Intoxication cases, not Draeger.

According to the opinion, “Plaintiffs have alleged that they were tested using a device that could not be fully calibrated, and that based on the (allegedly erroneous) Alcotest results, they faced ‘certain conviction, suffered physical and emotional injuries, and, in Johnson’s case, had to decide whether to resign or be terminated from his job”.

The court ruled that these injuries can be traced directly to the state court’s decision in each plaintiff’s case that his Alcotest reading was valid.

It was not Draeger’s design; it was the state court’s acceptance of the Alcotest as scientifically trustworthy, according to the opinion.

The fraud claim is not the same.

It was stated in the opinion, “In essence, the claim was that the plaintiff was forced to litigate in a rigged system. Applying the four-part Rooker-Feldman test, the court concluded that it was undisputed that the first and third requirements were met – plaintiffs had lost in state court and their DWI convictions were rendered before they filed their federal suit. With respect to the remaining requirements – that plaintiffs were complaining of injuries caused by the state-court judgments and that they invited review and rejection of those judgments – the court concluded that it was the legal framework established in Chun, not the purportedly erroneous test results or Ryser’s statements, that caused plaintiffs’ alleged injuries. Plaintiffs come close to adequately alleging the falsity of the scientific-reliability statements when they aver that it is ‘impossible’ to conclude that the Alcotest is scientifically reliable because that would require it to yield the same results upon multiple tests and no tests are available for the ‘volume, blowing time, and flow rate”.

But, the panel decided even taking as true that Hansueli Ryser, the vice president of Draeger, is a “highly trained scientist” who grasps the concept of scientific reliability; plaintiffs’ allegations are simply not adequate to allow an inference Ryser’s statement that he believed the overall instrument to be scientifically trustworthy was not true due to the reason certain sub-parameters could not be routinely tested, or to infer further that he believed his statements to be false.

Ashton E. Thomas of Ashton E. Thomas Attorney at Law in Elizabeth, N.J, represented the plaintiffs.

News Source: www.LegalNewsLine.com

Marlton Man Leads Officers On DWI Chase In Stolen Car

30-year-old Christopher Lentz of Mount Laurel was arrested by police officers on multiple charges on Friday afternoon after a brief car chase.

According to the Evesham Township Police Department, Lentz faced multiple charges including eluding the police officers, theft of a vehicle, theft of credit cards, resisting arrest and driving while intoxicated. He was also charged with other motor vehicle violations in connection to the incident.

The incident that took place on 19 December began as police officers spotted a vehicle traveling on Route 73 at around 3 pm. Police officers identified the vehicle as being reported stolen earlier that day.

A pursuit was started and the officers followed the vehicle into neighboring Mount Laurel. When the vehicle eventually pulled over in heavy traffic, the officers were able to apprehend the driver.

After a brief scuffle with the officers, the driver was identifies as Lentz.

He was places in Burlington County Jail on $525,000 bail.

News Source: www.NJ.com

DWI Charge Against Lambertville Mayor David Delvecchio Dismissed

MANSFIELD – A Mansfield Municipal Court dropped the drunken driving charges against Lambertville Mayor David DelVecchio on Thursday.

Lambertville’s longtime municipal attorney and prosecutor, Philip Faherty, represented DelVecchio in court who agreed to plead guilty to a lesser charge. DelVecchio admitted to reckless driving and said that he swerved out of his lane before he was stopped by the police.

At the time of the stop, Mansfield Police administered field sobriety tests which DelVecchio failed.

58-year-old DelVecchio was arrested on DWI charges on 9 November on Route 130 shortly after 1 a.m. He was also charged with reckless driving and failure to maintain a lane during a traffic stop.

At the police headquarters, two breathalyzer tests were administered, but no trace of alcohol was found in the breath tests. DelVecchio told officers that he had been drinking earlier that night, but that was over the period of several hours according to Faherty.

After the hearing, DelVecchio said that he was relieved that the most important charges against him have been resolved.

According to the arrest reports, DelVecchio was cooperative throughout the investigation and he was also polite while the police investigated him. His attorney also pleaded for minimum fines as DelVecchio cooperated with the officers and throughout the arrest.

Fines of $206 and $32 were imposed by Municipal Court Judge Dennis P. McInerney in court fees, which DelVecchio paid before leaving court.

According to DelVecchio’s lawyer, DelVecchio did not argue against the reckless driving charge, but he accepted the plea deal instead.

DelVecchio passed a statement in which he said that he has taken a strong stand against drunk driving as a mayor in his own community. He also said that he would not act in a way which is contrary with that belief. “I hold the officers who handled this case in the highest regard, as they acted with the same integrity and professionalism that I ask of the Lambertville police, and I did not receive any preferential treatment,” he said in the statement.

DelVecchio has served as a president of the New Jersey League of Municipalities and president of the New Jersey Conference of Mayors. He is in his eighth term as mayor.

News Source: www.NJ.com

23-Year-Old Monroe Township Man Identified In Fatal I-295 Crash

23-year-old Jeremy Jackson of Williamstown was identified as the victim in a fatal crash that took place on I-295 in Logan Township on Thursday 9 December, 2014.

Jackson of Monroe Township was declared dead in the incident that took place near mile marker 10.7 shortly after 10 a.m.

Jackson was driving an Econoline van when he collided with the rear end of a tractor trailer when both vehicles were headed south.

According to the state police, the driver of the tractor trailer did not sustain any injury in the accident. The driver of the tractor trailer was gaining speed in the right lane after he had pulled over to the side of the road to check a headlight when Jackson crashed into him.

The witnesses told the state police that the brake lights of the van went on just moments before the impact.

The right lane of southbound traffic was closed for some time as crews investigated the incident. After the roadway was cleared, the right lane was reopened by state police.

The incident is still being investigated.

News Source: www.Nj.com