The serially-reckless driver whose actions led to the death of a three-month-old baby and the maiming of her mother last year says that the family can only blame themselves for their misfortunes — echoing the defense used by the city’s lawyers aiming to shield itself from legal liability.
Tyrik Mott, the man accused of fatally striking Baby Apolline Mong-Guillemin and injuring both her parents as they pushed her in a stroller on Gates Avenue last September, submitted a response in court last week to the lawsuit filed by the family holding both him and the city responsible for the infant’s death. In the response, Mott argues that he and his driving cannot be responsible for the incident as the family were aware of the inherent hazards in walking down the Clinton Hill sidewalk on a late-summer evening.
“Whatever injuries and damages were sustained by the plaintiff herein as alleged in the Verified Complaint arose from and were caused by reason of such risks voluntarily undertaken by the plaintiff in his/her activities and such risks were assumed and accepted by him/her in performing and engaging in said activities,” Mott’s lawyers at Long Island-based Desena & Sweeney LLP wrote in their response.
Mott was allegedly speeding along Gates Avenue in the wrong direction on Sept. 11, 2021 when he smashed his car into another vehicle driving on Vanderbilt Avenue, causing both vehicles to jump the curb and collide into the family. Baby Apolline was pronounced dead at Brooklyn Hospital Center that day, while her parents sustained severe injuries that they allege in their suit have left them with permanent physical disabilities and mental anguish, along with massive hospital bills.
Mott was arrested the following day for attempting to steal a car, and was later slapped with counts of manslaughter by the Brooklyn District Attorney. Mott, who faces up to 25 years behind bars, has been out of jail since November on a $350,000 bond.
The suit filed by Apolline’s bereaved father in July names not only Mott as a defendant, but also the city and several municipal agencies, alleging that a perfect storm of individual and institutional failure led to the baby’s untimely demise.
In the four years prior to the fatal collision, Mott’s Honda had racked up an astounding 160 traffic violations, including 91 for speeding in school zones. He was, if anything, the poster child for the kind of driver whose car would be impounded under the city’s Dangerous Vehicle Abatement Program, until completing an in-person road safety course.
But the program’s implementation was not considered a priority under former Mayor Bill de Blasio, and didn’t even start until months after the deadly Gates Avenue collision despite having been approved pre-pandemic. As such, the family claims the city was “negligent, careless, and reckless” in failing to enforce its own law and take the serially-reckless motorist off the road.
They also named in their suit the NYPD, alleging undisclosed officers engaged Mott in a needless high-speed car chase just before the crash; an NYPD spokesperson confirmed to Brooklyn Paper’s sister publication amNewYork last year that such a chase had occurred.
And the family also named the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Department of Design & Construction (DDC), arguing that the city should have designed the roadway in such a manner to make it difficult or impossible for Mott’s conduct to occur, or result in a collision.
But like Mott, the city’s Corporation Counsel denied any liability in the collision, arguing that the family should have been aware of the dangers inherent in their stroll
“Any and all risks, hazards, defects, and dangers to the extent alleged were of an open, obvious, apparent, and inherent nature, and were known or should have been known to plaintiff,” wrote Assistant Corporation Counsel Elizabeth Gross in the August filing, which was first reported by Streetsblog.
Harris Marks, the attorney representing Apolline’s family, could not be reached for comment.