ELIZABETH – Joseph Suliga was killed because a careless driver slammed into a car, which was illegally parked by its driver, his widow claims. Annmarie Pukulski wants jurors to award her unspecified damages in a wrongful death claim in which she contends that her 47-year old husband should not have died outside a Linden go-go bar in 2005.
Annmarie Pakulski wants jurors to side with her and award unspecified damages in a wrongful death claim in which she contends her 47-year-old husband should not have died outside of Cheeques Go-Go Bar in Linden on Feb. 18, 2005.
The trial got underway last Wednesday in Superior Court in Elizabeth. Pakulski blames the driver of the car Suliga was in, Nicholas Sorrentino of Cranford, for carelessness. His 2003 Infiniti G35 was parked in front of Cheeques on East Linden Avenue, blocking three quarters of the road according to Pakulski’s lawyer.
Suliga was sitting in the back seat of the luxury car. He died at the scene from a broken neck and damaged spinal cord when the vehicle was struck by a 1995 Chrysler Sebring. Pakulski also blames the driver of that vehicle, Omar Beeks of Elizabeth, for her husband’s death.
Joan Hannon, who was standing outside the Infiniti when the crash happened, was thrown about 20 feet by the impact. She suffered fractures to her pelvis, ribs and ankle. She also suffered a concussion and was hospitalized for six days. She has joined Pakulski in blaming Sorrentino and Beeks for the accident.
Sorrentino testified last Thursday and placed the blame for the accident solely on Beeks, who left the westbound lane he was traveling in and veered onto the eastbound side of the road to hit the Infiniti.
Pakulski’s lawyer said that the accident would not have taken place if Sorrentino had not parked illegally.
“Mr. Sorrentino thought himself to be king of the road,” said Pakulski’s lawyer, Kenneth Javerbaum, in his statements to the jury. “As cars are coming down the eastbound direction, in the direction of Mr. Sorrentino’s car, car after car after car swerve into the other lane of traffic. Mr. Sorrentino believed he owned the road.”
Sorrentino’s lawyer said that Beeks should have stayed on his side of the road.
“Omar Beeks was going westbound, in the opposite direction, and for some reason swerved, not a little bit, but completely into the eastbound lane where he did not have a right to be, and with some force, struck the rear of Mr. Sorrentino’s vehicle,” attorney Edwin McCreedy said.
Lawyer Steven Litvak, representing Beeks, said, “When you have a vehicle parked outside a bar, with three-quarters of it sticking out, there is nothing you can do.”
Beeks contended that he swerved to avoid another vehicle, but in testimony Monday he admitted that he did not actually see another vehicle.
“I saw a light out of the corner of my eye,” Beeks said. “I believe it was a car. The lights were shining. It seemed like it was so close, I swerved,” Beeks said.
The trial was still in progress at press time.
Suliga was a popular figure in Linden. The Democrat served on the city’s school board and city council. He was the town’s treasurer and had been elected to the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders, the state Assembly and the state Senate.