EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 25, 2013

Derry ordered to pay $250K to accident victim

By Doug Ireland
direland@eagletribune.com

---- — BRENTWOOD — The town of Derry must pay $250,000 to a woman who was seriously hurt when a tree limb fell on her car, smashing the roof and injuring her daughter as well.

A Rockingham Superior Court jury recently decided Derry was liable for an accident that occurred when town workers and a local tree company employee were cutting trees on Old Chester Road.

Tracy Buzzanga of Derry claimed in her civil lawsuit against Derry and All Pro Tree Service that a town flagger allowed her to drive through the work area with her 2-year-old daughter as All Pro owner Patrick Floyd was cutting a large tree limb.

The limb, approximately 20 feet long and 8 inches thick, crushed the car’s roof and shattered the windshield and sunroof, spraying mother and daughter with glass, according to the lawsuit.

Buzzanga was taken to Parkland Medical Center. She said she suffered pain in both shoulders, neck pain, a cervical strain and head pain, as well as memory loss. Her young daughter was treated for facial cuts.

After a four-day trial earlier this month, the jury decided Derry must pay Buzzanga in damages, but All Pro was not at fault.

The town’s insurance company will pay for the damages.

Buzzanga, wife of Derry Conservation Commission member Riccardo Buzzanga, sought $1.5 million in damages. A settlement was negotiated to compensate the family for injuries suffered by the 2-year-old.

Tracy Buzzanga alleged that since the accident, she has experienced fatigue, difficulty sleeping, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression.

Buzzanga also said in the lawsuit she has difficulty performing everyday tasks without pain, requiring substantial physical therapy, medication and treatment.

She said she has required more than $73,000 in medical care and prescription drugs. She has been unable to work, accounting for $271,554 in lost wages through 2012, the lawsuit said.

The young girl, who required $879 in medical care, has suffered frequent nightmares since the accident, the lawsuit said. The couple also claimed the incident has affected their marriage.

Derry Town Administrator John Anderson said “it was a difficult case” and the town believes All Pro should also be held responsible for the accident.

“It was an unfortunate set of circumstances and the town admits its culpability, he said. “We apologize to the Buzzanga family.”

Immediately after the accident, the town adopted a policy to ensure all limbs were properly secured when cutting trees along roadsides, Anderson said. Efforts were made to improve training for flaggers, he said.

“We will not make the same mistake again,” Anderson said.

Neither Buzzanga nor her attorney, Peter Webb, could be reached for comment. Floyd could not be reached.