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Massachusetts Family Receives $7M Wrongful Death Settlement

— April 30, 2021

Daughters are awarded $7M in mother’s wrongful death case.

Massachusetts resident Zoe Rosenthal, 52, died in November 2017 after being hit by a driver who her family has claimed was negligent.  She was out walking her dog, Chester, and was on a crosswalk when she was struck by Charles J. Davignon who was driving a pickup truck at the time, according to a police report.

When Rosenthal was struck by the vehicle, she hit her head on the pavement and was transported by ambulance to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts.  A hospital CT scan revealed she had suffered a skull fracture and a brain hemorrhage.  Rosenthal died two days later.

Photo by Braden Chilton from Pexels

A jury has awarded $7 million to Rosenthal’s family in a wrongful death lawsuit.  Of the $7 million, $3 million goes to each surviving daughter and $1 million is for Rosenthal’s pain and suffering.  In addition to these funds, more than $2.5 million was for pre-judgment interest.  In total, the verdict was more than $9.5 million. The family was represented by attorneys Nicholas Rowley and Benjamin Novotny of Trial Lawyers for Justice and Charlotte Glinka and Karen Zahka of Keches Law Group.

An ophthalmologist who testified for the plaintiffs said Davignon, 62, had a severe visual impairment in his left eye. “He’s basically legally blind in his left eye,” Novotny clarified.

However, police report indicated he remained at the scene and was cooperative.  While Davignon’s license has been suspended indefinitely, he has not been criminally charged.

“It’s an honor to see two wonderful daughters finally get justice,” said Rowley. “For the last three years, the defendant refused to take responsibility for their mother’s death.  That changed during this trial.  This trial was necessary because the insurance company acted irresponsibly and cheaply.  Now they’ll have to face the consequences.”  He added, “I am told by the court clerk [in Springfield] that it’s a record non-economic damages verdict for wrongful death with adult heirs in Western Massachusetts.  I hope and pray that someday Insurance companies start treating victims and families fairly.”

In her obituary, Rosenthal was remembered as “an imaginative and creative teacher.”  It reads, “Zoë projected active compassion for the disadvantaged and oppressed.  Her commitment to anti-bias and social justice was met in her work at Capacidad, a child-care organization that matched her values.  With Umoja Too she went to Japan with a dance troupe where her daughters performed.  She was always willing to help others and share what she had.  Her interests were many and included photography and glass blowing.  Zoë reveled in Latino culture, food, music, and salsa dance.”

Chelsea and Tiffany Castillo both spoke in court.  Tiffany recalled, “She was a great mom, and she makes me want to be the best mom I can be.”

“This has been a devastating loss to Zoe Rosenthal’s family and to the community of friends and colleagues who adored her,” Glinka said. Novotny added the jury award could not bring her back, but “It can help [her daughters] establish scholarships or other memorials in her name so that’s she’s not forgotten.”


Family of Zoe Rosenthal, a Holyoke teacher fatally struck by driver in 2017, is awarded $7 million after wrongful death lawsuit

Holyoke woman’s family wins $9.5M judgment in crosswalk death

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