New York county officials have agreed to pay $7.5 million to settle lawsuits involving the accidental death of a 21-year-old Indian American college student during Superstorm Sandy. Stony Brook University student Vishwaja Muppa, of Edison, New Jersey, was killed and three other women — Jacqueline Dincil, Tanya Khan, and Disha Gupta — were injured in the 2012 storm. Officials say a Suffolk County police car crashed into their vehicle at a darkened intersection in the hamlet of Port Jefferson Station on Long Island. Police say the storm had knocked out the traffic light and the officer didn’t have his emergency lights on.
The three other women suffered severe and permanent injuries, and will also receive part of the settlement. The settlement was announced May 30. Newsday reports (http://nwsdy.li/2sfpEnD) the county legislature will decide a proposal to borrow $3 million for the settlement.
According to the Newsday report, Muppa was studying to become a physician. A biology major, she was described by friends as a hardworking scholar, who also worked for two years as a student assistant in the office of university president Dr. Samuel L. Stanley.
“Nothing makes up for the tragic loss of this beautiful young lady, but under the circumstances the best interest of the family was to put this behind them,” Anthony J. Emanuel, attorney for the Muppa estate, was quoted as saying by Newsday.
Others who are part of the settlement are Dincil who suffered multiple fractures of the pelvis and lumbar spine, some of which are permanent; Khan, who claimed “severe and permanent injuries”; and Gupta, who suffered permanent injuries to her spinal column and brain which required surgery and extensive medical treatment, according to court papers.
“The legislature is doing the right thing because the actions of the Suffolk County police officer were indefensible,” said Robert Sullivan, attorney for Gupta, who graduated from Stony Brook and is back in India but still in treatment.