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Norwich woman receives $1.1 million settlement for collision that killed couple

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Amber Nicole Castle, 24, of Norwich, who was seriously injured in a head-on collision on Interstate 395 on Jan. 12, 2019, has resolved a civil lawsuit out of court for $1.1 million, according to her attorney.

John Adams, 85, and his wife, Joan, 79, both of Uncasville, the two occupants of a Buick Lucerne that jumped the median from the southbound lane and struck Castle's northbound Toyota Corolla head-on, were killed in the 7:30 p.m. crash. The occupants of a third car involved in the crash were uninjured, according to state police.

Castle's attorney, John J. Nazzaro of the Reardon Law Firm, speaking about the case during a phone interview Tuesday and in a written news release, said the Adams' deaths were probably instantaneous, and it's a miracle Castle survived. She suffered fractures to her right leg, facial bones and right arm.

She was taken from the scene to the Backus Hospital in Norwich, then transferred to Hartford Hospital by Life Star helicopter. Nazzaro said she underwent emergency surgery, which included the insertion of rods, pins and orthopedic hardware. Following her release, she exercised regularly using a Stairmaster and walking on a treadmill to improve her mobility and is fully healed, according to Nazzaro.

"Miss Castle is a remarkable young lady," Nazzaro said. "She was determined to work hard to improve herself."

Nazzaro said Castle was working as a waitress at a local casino and part-time as a massage therapist prior to the crash. She had returned to restaurant work following six months of rehabilitation but is not currently employed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"Settlement could not have come at a more important time," Nazzaro said.

The case was headed to trial in New London Superior Court, though it was not clear when it would be scheduled, because court activity is limited due to the pandemic. Nazzaro said he and attorney Lewis S. Lerman of the Halloran & Sage law firm of Westport were able to work out a settlement for most of the available insurance coverage.

Lerman represented John Adams' son, Bruce Adams, executor of Adams' estate, in the civil lawsuit that claimed Adams' recklessness had caused the crash.

Alcohol was not a factor, and no one determined that a medical event had caused the crash, Lerman said by phone Tuesday.

"The plaintiff (Castle) was a very nice person who was very seriously injured," Lerman said. "It was just a tragic accident all the way around."

According to state police, John Adams was driving southbound when his car veered into the right shoulder of the highway, then back across both travel lanes and into the median, before striking the metal beam guard rail and crossing over into northbound traffic. The crash occurred near the Troop E state police barracks.

Once in the northbound lanes, Adams' Buick struck Castle's vehicle. The Adams' Buick then rolled to its side, where it was then struck by a Toyota Sienna. The occupants of the Toyota Sienna, Mark James Gaudette, 34, Jamie Elizabeth Gaudette, 34, and Ian Gaudette, 2, all of Jewett City, were uninjured, state police said.

The estate of Joan Adams also had filed a lawsuit against John Adams' estate. That case was withdrawn from the court system recently, indicating a settlement. Attorney Daniel Horgan of New London, who represented Joan Adams' estate, could not immediately be reached for comment.

k.florin@theday.com

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