Cop files damage claim against bereaved


The Ambroses, whose daughter was killed, pressed a suit last year

By Debra Barayuga

Star-Bulletin

Retired police officer Clyde Arakawa has filed a counterclaim against the family of Dana Ambrose for damage to his car arising from the collision last October that killed the 19-year-old college student.

But the attorney for the Ambrose family says the counterclaim is futile, untimely and should be denied.

A hearing on Arakawa's motion is set for May 29.

Rick Fried, attorney for the Ambroses, said Arakawa should have filed his claim when he responded to the wrongful-death lawsuit filed against him last November by Rollie and Susan Ambrose, parents of the victim.

Arakawa's claim arises from the same accident as the Ambroses' claims and does not involve any additional legal issues, his attorney Michael Ostendorp said.

In his motion filed May 9, Arakawa said the counterclaim was required to be filed but that he was unaware he needed to do it at the time he responded to the Ambroses' suit and that his insurance company contends it was outside their contract to do so.

If this was true, then Arakawa's claims should be against his insurers, not the Ambroses, Fried said in their response.

Arakawa's request is also futile because facts already established point to Arakawa's liability in the collision, Fried said.

The evidence he expects to introduce at trial includes testimony of eyewitnesses who saw Arakawa run a red light; analysis of his blood-alcohol level, which toxicologists say was in excess of 0.16 percent -- at least twice the legal limit -- expert testimony that the traffic light was functioning properly; and damage to the cars indicating that Arakawa was going between 57 and 59 mph.

Arakawa has pleaded not guilty to reckless manslaughter stemming from Ambrose's death. He has denied liability for the crash, contending the city is liable because it failed to properly maintain the traffic light. He maintains he had the green light and was not speeding at the time. He will go to trial July 16.