LOCKPORT – A wrongful-death lawsuit was filed Friday against an 18-year-old woman who pleaded not guilty Thursday to a 23-count indictment accusing her of driving under the influence of alcohol and marijuana when she crashed her father’s car May 19, killing her passenger.
The lawsuit was filed in State Supreme Court against Taylor J. Clause, of Steele Circle, Town of Niagara, and her father, Morley A. Clause III, of Walmore Road on the Tuscarora Indian Reservation.
The plaintiffs are Audrey L. Dubuc and Dr. Stephen M. Dubuc, of Cayuga Drive, Niagara Falls, parents of Jasmin P. Dubuc, 19, who died in the crash.
Also named is Chase J. Dubuc, the infant son being raised by Jasmin’s parents. He was only 43 days old when his mother died, according to the family’s attorney, Kevin V. Hutcheson of the Buffalo law firm of Roach, Brown, McCarthy & Gruber.
Taylor Clause faces a maximum of 25 years in prison if she is convicted of the most serious charge in the indictment, aggravated vehicular homicide.
The indictment includes two counts of that charge, along with three counts of second-degree vehicular manslaughter and single counts of first-degree vehicular manslaughter, second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.
Police said Jasmin Dubuc was ejected from the car, a 2009 Mazda 3, and killed after the auto struck a utility pole and rolled over several times. It happened at about 5:50 a.m. May 19 on a curve on Walmore Road on the Tuscarora Indian Reservation.
Clause remains free on $5,000 bail set at her original appearance in Lewiston Town Court eight months ago.
Her tentative trial date is June 9, and a pretrial conference was set for April 4. She is represented by defense attorneys Joel L. Daniels and James J. Faso Jr.
State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. said that pre-indictment conferences failed to produce a plea bargain, so the case was taken before a grand jury.
Besides the homicide and manslaughter charges, the indictment includes five counts of driving under the influence: three referring to alcohol, one to marijuana and one to a combination of the two, Deputy District Attorney Theodore A. Brenner said.
Other charges include three counts of second-degree vehicular assault and single counts of second-degree assault, aggravated vehicular assault, first-degree vehicular assault, failure to stay in a designated lane, imprudent speed, failure to reduce speed on a curve and reckless driving.
Hutcheson said he doesn’t have a damage figure in mind, but the civil suit won’t wait until the criminal case is complete.
“We don’t know at this time how long the criminal case will last,” he said. “One won’t interfere with the other.”
He said the Dubucs “are obviously devastated, and they’re raising this baby who will never know her mother.”
Hutcheson said Jasmin Dubuc was a month away from her graduation from Niagara Wheatfield Senior High School when she was killed. Dr. Dubuc is a chiropractor whose office is in the Smokin’ Joe’s complex on Route 31 across from the school.