UNION COUNTY, NJ — Four years ago, then Undersheriff and Assemblyman Joseph Cryan was driving to his home in Union when he accidentally made a left turn in front of an oncoming vehicle and was involved in a minor accident. Now, four years later, the county has decided to settle two lawsuits with the passengers of the other vehicle for a hefty sum.
According to the police report from Nov. 5, 2011, around 10:38 a.m. Twanda Brown was driving a 2006 Acura MDX on Liberty Avenue toward Route 22 when she collided with Cryan’s 2009 Ford Escape at the intersection of Meister Avenue.
Cryan, listed as “driver 2” on the police report, was travelling north on Liberty Avenue towards Morris Avenue and wanted to turn left onto Meister Avenue. As he turned, the report states that he was distracted by sun glare and did not see the oncoming vehicle.
The police report makes no mention of medical attention being needed nor refused. The report does not indicate airbags deploying in either car and no injuries were reported at the time of the incident. But in a lawsuit filed two years later, Brown, and passenger Yuri Rayford, alleged severe injuries.
“The plaintiff sustained severe personal injuries, has and will suffer pain, has and will incur medical expenses, and had and will be unable to engage in her usual occupation and activities,” according to the lawsuit filed in October of 2013 on behalf of Brown, which named Cryan and the county as defendants.
The passenger in the vehicle, Rayford, also filed suit in October of 2013 saying she was seriously injured. In a separate lawsuit, Rayford said she “suffered serious physical and emotional injuries of a temporary and permanent nature, considerable pain, anguish and suffering, shock and other special damages, and is unable to engage in her usual occupation and activities.”
Both plaintiffs are from Maplewood; however, Rayford also claimed negligence on the part of the driver, in addition to Cryan and the county.
At their meeting last week, the Union County freeholders approved paying $335,000 to settle the lawsuits. None of the freeholders commented publically on the settlement, despite reports that multiple people at the meeting asked questions about the incident.
When reached for comment, Cryan said he had none.
“I cannot comment on ongoing legal action,” he said Monday.
Sebastian D’Elia, the Union County communications director, also declined to comment on ongoing legal action.