By Madina Toure
The city has reached a $1.5 million settlement with a former Major League baseball prospect who said he was struck by a car at a Flushing intersection because he was not given enough time to cross the street.
On Feb. 10, 2008, Whitestone resident Joseph Mare, now 26, was trying to cross the intersection of Francis Lewis Boulevard and 172nd Street when the light changed after 15 seconds. Federal guidelines indicate that it should have taken 27.5 seconds for the light to change, given the size of the intersection, according to Scott Rynecki, Mare’s lawyer.
Through his lawyer and family, Mare declined to comment.
Rynecki said the settlement covers the pain and suffering the accident caused Mare as well as any future care he may need for injuries related to the incident. He said the driver who hit Mare stayed on the scene and contributed an additional $100,000.
“This unfortunate accident resulted in serious injuries,” a spokesman for the city Law Department said in a statement. “In light of the court rulings during the litigation, settlement was in the city’s best interest.”
Mare attended Holy Cross HS, where he played baseball all four years, including the varsity level during his last two years, according to Doug Manfredonia, his coach at Holy Cross. He graduated in 2004.
He batted .350 his senior year and was also named the team’s Most Valuable Player, according to the official website for LIU Post Pioneers Athletics. He was also a standout basketball player and earned MVP honors his senior year.
Mare was a third baseman on LIU Post’s Pioneer baseball team from 2005 to 2007, according to Pioneers website. His accident occurred right before his senior season.
Manfredonia said he was a disciplined player who started out as “a little bit of a late bloomer” but worked his way up.
“Some kids come in as a freshman or a sophomore and they really don’t improve that much, but he was an extremely hard worker and I think he became a better player every year and I think that continued into his college career,” he said.
Mare now works as a personal trainer and gives motivational speeches and lectures to people who have had traumatic injuries, Rynecki said.
“It was our position that this intersection was woefully inadequate and that after 12 seconds, the intersection was changed and he was left out there to be struck by a car,” Rynecki said.
Rynecki said the city made applications to have the matter dismissed, saying that it has qualified immunity as a governmental agency but that the lawyer was able to establish that they did not conduct traffic studies there despite the number of accidents at the intersection.
“They didn’t properly test them and they didn’t have any proper studies out there. There were a number of accidents at that intersection,” he said.
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour