Lawyer Who Beat O.J. Takes Wrong Way Taconic Case

Bastardi family retains high-powered lawyer to fight the Schuler estate

Monday, Jan 4, 2010  |  Updated 5:02 PM EDT
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Lawyer Who Beat O.J. Takes Wrong Way Taconic Case

NBCNewYork.com

Diane Schuler was drunk and had high levels of marijuana in her system on the day she drove the wrong way on the Taconic, according to Westchester authorities.

A lawyer who won a judgment against O.J. Simpson is getting involved in the case of the Long Island mom whose wrong-way driving on the Taconic was blamed for eight deaths including four children.

A law clerk for attorney John Q. Kelly says relatives of two of the adult victims, Michael and Guy Bastardi, have hired Kelly to handle their lawsuit against the estate of Diane Schuler.

A Bastardi family spokesman did not immediately return a call.

Kelly represented the estate of Nicole Brown Simpson in a civil case against O.J. Simpson, who had been acquitted in her 1994 killing. The civil jury found the former football star responsible and awarded $33.5 million.

Schuler had a blood alcohol level of 0.19 -- more than twice the legal limit -- and had high levels of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, in her system when she crashed along the Taconic Parkway on July 26, according to an autopsy.  Her family has disputed this.

Schuler, her 2-year-old daughter and three young nieces, ages 8, 7 and 5, died in the crash which also killed three men riding in an SUV: Guy Bastardi, 49; his father, Michael Bastardi, 81; and a family friend, Daniel Longo, 74, all of Yonkers. Only Schuler's 5-year-old son survived.

Toxicology experts said they found a bottle of vodka in the wreckage and Schuler had six grams of alcohol in her stomach -- indicating she was drinking while driving.  Her marijuana use was recent, investigators said.  Levels of THC in her blood indicated she had smoked within 15 minutes to an hour of the horrific crash.

Schuler's blood alcohol was roughly equivalent to about 10 drinks, according to the toxicology report.

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