NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The family of a little girl killed on the Upper West Side is pushing for a new law that would allow families to recover financial damages when there’s municipal negligence.

As WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported, a $40 million lawsuit turned into a $150,000 settlement because of what attorney Sanford Rubenstein called a loophole.

He said in the case of Ariel Russo, nobody from her family called 911 after she was hit by an SUV.

“There has to be direct contact between the victim or a close member of the victim’s family with a city employee for them to be liable,” Rubenstein said.

Ariel died in June of 2013 after an SUV jumped a curb on Amsterdam Avenue while the little girl was walking to school with her grandmother, Katia Gutierez.

A Department of Investigation report found that an emergency dispatcher went on break without seeing that a call had come in requesting aid for Ariel. The report concluded that human error was to blame for the delayed response to the crash.

The 4-year-old’s mom, Sophia, said the last 22 months have been a struggle.

“The financial struggle, the physical struggle — it’s been really, really, profoundly painful,” Sophia said.

Ariel’s Law would hold municipalities liable for negligence regardless of who calls 911, Haskell reported.


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