Lawyers for the City of New York submitted a brief this week that blamed the death of a 3-month-old baby killed by a reckless driver last year in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn on her grieving parents. Because really, they should have known how dangerous it is to exist on a New York sidewalk.
Julien Mong and Marion Guillemin lost their infant daughter Apolline Mong-Guillemin on September 11, 2021. That evening, the family was out for a stroll when Tyrik Mott drove the wrong way down a one-way street while fleeing police. Mott hit another driver, forcing that car on to the curb and into the small family. The second car hit Mong, Guillemin and their daughter, launching the 3-month-old from her stroller. Mott had a long history of traffic violations, according to AMNY:
Cops said Mott tried to steal another car after the collision and they cuffed him on charges of attempted robbery, grand larceny, resisting arrest, obstructing governmental administration, and attempted unauthorized use of a vehicle.
Mott’s 2017 Honda Civic has a staggering 160 traffic violations since mid-2017 attached to its Pennsylvania license plates — which were captured on the scene by journalist Liam Quigley — amounting to almost $14,000 in fines.
That includes a whopping 91 tickets for speeding in school zones and 13 times that car’s driver ran red lights in the city, according to the online database How’s My Driving NY.
Mong-Guillemin was rushed to the hospital and pronounced dead on arrival. Guillemin was also severely injured in the crash. Mong and Guillemin filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city last month. The pair specifically blame New York for “...failing to design, construct … and maintain [roads] in a reasonably safe condition thereby creating dangerous and hazardous conditions,” Streetsblog NY reports. They also blame the police for pursuing Mott in the middle of New York’s most densely populated borough over something as minor as a red light infraction.
The city responded by saying no, it’s actually the grieving parents who are responsible for their child’s death for daring to take a walk with their new baby on a warm summer evening. From Streetsblog:
“Plaintiff[s] culpable conduct caused or contributed to the alleged injuries and the alleged wrongful death,” the city’s Assistant Corporation Counsel Elizabeth Gross wrote in court papers filed late last week in response to a wrongful death lawsuit filed last month by Apolline’s parents, Julien Mong and Marion Guillemin against the city and the drivers involved in the crash. “Plaintiff[s] negligence caused or contributed to the alleged injuries and the alleged wrongful death.”
And after blaming both parents for “negligence” and “culpable conduct” for taking their daughter for a walk on the sidewalk along Vanderbilt and Gates avenue in the gloaming of Sept. 11, 2021, the city twists the shiv a bit deeper by claiming that the parents should have known how dangerous it is to walk along a New York City street — a legal argument that at once seeks to hold the city blameless while also admitting that it is failing to keep the streets safe.
“Any and all risks, hazards, defects, and dangers … were of an open, obvious, apparent, and inherent nature, and were known or should have been known to plaintiff[s],” the city’s court papers claim
The city’s Law Department also claim that the NYPD had to chase down Mott due to “...the risks to the public, outweighed the danger to the community if the suspect was not immediately apprehended.” Why that driver, who had 160 traffic violations and $14,000 in fines, didn’t present enough of a danger to the community for the city to at least revoke his license before the crash wasn’t mentioned in the city’s response. In the city’s Law Department’s opinion, New York’s Department of Transportation and Police Department are completely blameless and immune from the lawsuit. Mott was charged with manslaughter. His next court appearance is set for August 24.
This isn’t the first time New York has blamed a death due to its crappy infrastructure on the cheekiness of people to exist outside of cars. In 2020, the city blamed an architect for his death after he was killed by falling debris while walking on the sidewalk.