A trial in the wrongful-death lawsuit filed by the family of Alexandria “Alix” Rice against Dr. James G. Corasanti has been put off until next year, 3½ years after the 18-year-old died in the Amherst hit-and-run.
State Supreme Court Justice John L. Michalski on Thursday set the trial for January, with jury selection starting Jan. 5 followed by opening statements Jan. 12.
The trial, which had been scheduled to start this March, then in August, has been delayed by appeals of the judge’s rulings last fall on pretrial motions.
The judge ruled then that Corasanti’s attorney can have access to some of the medical and professional counseling records of the hit-run victim.
Terrence M. Connors, chief attorney for the Rice family, had argued that the records should not be released “due to the sensitive nature” of the documents under the state mental hygiene law and because of concerns about doctor-patient privilege. He appealed the ruling.
The judge last fall also denied a bid by Corasanti’s attorneys to dismiss the Rice family’s claims for punitive damages, pain and suffering, and suffering for the terror the family contends she suffered before she was hit by the doctor’s BMW. His attorneys appealed that ruling.
As a result of the appeals on both sides, the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court, based in Rochester, is not expected to hear arguments until October, roughly a year after Michalski’s rulings. The appeals court is expected to rule sometime in November or December.
The Rice family filed the lawsuit after their daughter was fatally struck July 8, 2011, while she was riding her longboard along Heim Road and Corasanti was returning home from Transit Valley Country Club. Connors said 3½ years is not a long time for a lawsuit to go to trial.
“To get a trial started under four years is not bad in this day and age, given court calendar congestion,” he said, adding that the case had been moving along quickly until the appeals.
The Getzville physician, now 58, was convicted by an Erie County Court jury in May 2012 of misdemeanor driving while intoxicated but acquitted of manslaughter, leaving the scene of an accident and evidence tampering.
He was released from the Erie County Correctional Facility in April 2013 after serving eight months of the maximum one-year jail term imposed by Judge Sheila A. DiTullio. He got time off for good behavior.