Honda and driver blamed in fatal Smithon accident

By Ann Knef | Jan 23, 2007

Honda Motor Co. and the driver in a fatal car accident on May 22, 2005 in Smithton are being sued in St. Clair County Circuit Court by the families of two passengers.

The wreck happened on Lunch Road, three quarters of a mile past Schmidt Lane, when driver Louis Lengerman lost control of his 1999 Honda Accord and struck a tree and/or a bridge head-on, as well as on the right rear side of the vehicle.

Jennifer Reitzell of Freeburg, a minor, was killed in the accident. Her mother, Marie Reitzell filed a wrongful death action on her behalf.

The other passenger, Steve Quirin, sustained abdominal injuries, lumbar fractures and a brain injury, according to the suit filed Jan. 17.

Reitzell and Quirin were ejected from the vehicle.

The suit claims Lengerman drove too fast for conditions, failed to keep a proper lookout, failed to keep his vehicle under control and failed to decrease speed and stop to avoid the collision.

Quirin's father, Roger Quirin, filed the action on behalf of his son and himself seeking damages for bodily injury and medical expenses.

The plaintiffs are represented by James R. Mendillo and Shane M. Moskop of Freeark, Harvey, Mendillo, Dennis, Wuller, Cain & Murphy in Belleville and by James DeFranco, Dana Vetterhoffer and Cody Moon of DeFranco & Bradley in O'Fallon.

The suit claims the passengers' seat belts "completely tore."

Honda Motor Co., American Honda Motor Co., Honda of America Mfg., Honda R&D Americas, Honda Engineering North America, Honda North America and Honda Research Institute are named as defendants.

The suit claims Honda is negligent for failing to have safety belts that would restrain occupants and prevent them from being ejected, for containing seat belts that would and did tear upon impact and for failing to warn that said seat belts would not restrain a passenger in an impact that was reasonably foreseeable.

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