May 22, 2019 By Laura Hanrahan
The parents of a Rego Park woman killed by a taxi in a hit-and-run earlier this year are about to file a negligence lawsuit against the City.
On Feb. 24, Sherena Hundalani, 26, was standing on the sidewalk next to a Mobil Station at 63rd Road and Queens Boulevard waiting to cross the street when a green cab hit her from behind, dragging her underneath the car.
The driver, Lakhvinder Singh, fled the scene but was stopped by police near 62nd Drive and Junction Boulevard.
Hundalani was taken to a nearby hospital where she later died from her injuries.
Singh was taken into custody for questioning following the incident, but was later released. The case is still being investigated by the Queens District Attorney and no charges have been pressed.
Singh initially claimed the vehicle malfunctioned, according to Joshpe Mooney Paltzik LLP, the firm hired by Hundalani’s parents.
The suit, which names City of New York, the Department of Transportation, and the Taxi and Limousine Commission, alleges that Singh was using the Mobil station as an illegal turnaround—as is common for drivers who pick up passengers from the taxi stand on 63rd Road—when he struck and killed Hundalani.
Hundalani’s parents, Prakash and Bina, filed a notice of claim, which precedes formal civil action against government entities, on behalf of their daughter’s estate. They are seeking $25 million in damages, claiming that the various city agencies were aware of the dangerous conditions that lead to their daughter’s death, and allowed them to continue.
“We are devastated beyond words by the loss of our beautiful Sherena,” Hundalani’s parents said in a statement. “We are devastated beyond words by the loss of our beautiful Sherena. Everyday since her death has been a struggle. We are grateful to so many friends who have supported us and expressed their love for our daughter, but there must be accountability when an innocent young woman is killed by a taxi licensed by the City of New York while standing on the sidewalk of all places.”
A spokesperson for Joshpe Mooney Paltzik LLP called the current standard of taxi accident insurance coverage an outrage. Under current Taxi and Limousine regulations, insurance payouts for those injured or killed by a standard taxi or limousine are limited to $100,000 per person, $300,000 per accident, $200,000 in personal injury protection and $10,000 in property damage.
“Bill de Blasio has wasted billions of dollars of taxpayer funds on the Vision Zero advertising boondoggle supposedly designed to make the City’s streets safer,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “At the same time, the City government has opened the streets and sidewalks to reckless, unlicensed, and uninsured bicyclists—many of which are motorized—and more underinsured TLC vehicles than ever before.”
Later adding, “All vehicles licensed by New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission should be required to have no less than $1,000,000 in coverage so that future victims and their families will not suffer the indignity and injustice that Sherena and her family suffered. This requirement should forever be known as SHERENA’S LAW.”