Wrongful death lawsuit filed against RITBA



By Dana Griffin


NEWPORT, RI- After filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Newport Superior Court Monday morning, family members share why they're suing The Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority, Department of Transportation and the state of Rhode Island.

“We have a lawsuit for wrongful death.  Our families deserve to be compensated, but this lawsuit is about the truth. Public officials in Rhode Island need to do the right thing. They need to protect the public; they need to put a barrier on the bridge,” said, Kenny's Brother and plaintiff, David Prior.

Two–years ago, Kenny Prior of Jamestown, and Kathy Meunier of Warwick were killed on the bridge after a teen driver crossed two lanes and struck them head-on.

Kathy's Husband, Richard Meunier said, “Everyday, I cry. Everyday, I think about her and I think about Kenny.”

Family and friends are still feeling the affects of their deaths but want to prevent other head–on collisions.

ABC 6 News reached out to both RITBA and RIDOT. RIDOT declined comment; RITBA has not returned any of our calls or emails.

In state documents provided by the plaintiff's attorneys, RITBA's TIGER application sought funding to build a median barrier on the Pell Bridge in both 2009 and 2010.

The application states that “the installation of a median barrier… is intended for safety measures.”

RITBA also states that the American Association of State Highway and Transportation officials recommend a median barrier when average daily traffic exceeds 20, 000 cars.

Back in 2009, RITBA cited that the Pell Bridge sees 27, 000 thousand cars a day.

The plaintiffs say RITBA has been dragging their feet way too long.

“Meanwhile, two people were killed.  They didn't have to die. If there had been a barrier on that bridge, their lives would have been saved. It's time to stop looking into it and to the job,” said Prior.

RITBA did says their TIGER grant application was denied in 2010 and they are currently drafting a ten–year plan to construct the barrier, if warranted.

They claim even if they received the grant, the barrier would not have been erected prior to 2015.

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