Father of Victim Sues Estate of Former Police Officer in Fatal Car Crash

A lawsuit seeking to recover damages in the “wrongful death” of a young Newton woman has been filed by the woman’s father against the estate of Brian Kern, driver of the car involved in the fatal collision. (1)

Richard Bubendorf, acting as administrator of his daughter’s estate, filed the lawsuit in State Superior Court in Morristown claiming that Kern was legally intoxicated at the time of the accident and that his reckless driving resulted in the fatal crash. The 25-year-old Kern, an officer on the Andover police force for three years, was off-duty at the time of the accident. (2)

Bubendorf’s 19-year-old daughter, Kristen, was a passenger in Officer Kern’s pickup truck last April 19 when Kern lost control of the vehicle, hit a guardrail and flipped on the westbound lane of Route 80 in Mount Olive. Both Kern and Bubendorf were ejected from the vehicle and died as a result of injuries suffered in the crash; two other passengers suffered injuries but survived the accident. (2)

Toxicology tests and autopsy results on Kern indicated that he had a blood-alcohol level of .107 at the time of the accident. The legal blood-alcohol level in New Jersey is .08. (1)

The lawsuit seeks monetary damages for Miss Bubendorf’s death, plus compensation for the pecuniary value of her life for her family.

New Jersey law allows for recovery of grief damages by a person’s surviving spouse, child or parent. Those damages may include loss of financial support, recovery of medical and funeral expenses, as well as the pecuniary value of loss of guidance, advice and/or companionship. The statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit in New Jersey is two years from the date of death. (3)

(1) http://www.mycentraljersey.com/article/20110110/STATE/110110026/Suit-filed-against-deceased-police-officer-in-fatal-Mount-Olive-crash

(2) http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2011/01/lawsuit_filed_against_deceased.html

(3) http://www.njbia.org/pdf/edit1wrongfuldeath.pdf