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Marine vet injured in 2019 truck crash that killed 7 bikers now suing MA state

Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, of West Springfield stands during his arraignment in Hampton District Court Monday, June 24, 2019. (Don Treeger/The Republican via AP, Pool/TNS)
January 31, 2022

A U.S. Marine Corps veteran is suing the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (Mass. RMV) for failing to suspend the license of the trucker that hit and injured him in 2019, despite the trucker’s previous refusal of a breathalyzer test.

Joshua Morin, who served as a mortarman in the Marines, is suing the Mass. RMV, the Berkshire Eagle first reported Sunday. Morin’s lawsuit alleges the agency willfully, wantonly or recklessly failed to process thousands of license suspensions, including for truck driver Volodymyr Zhukovskyy.

On June 21, 2019, Morin was riding his motorcycle with the Jarheads Motorcycle Club, a motorcycle club for Marine veterans. Zhukovskyy, who was out driving at the same time, crossed a double yellow line and ran into the group, killing seven of its members, including five Marine veterans and two civilians.

Last year, the Boston Globe published a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation into the Mass. RMV, revealing the agency hadn’t been acting on dozens of out-of-state notifications about driving violations. Zhukovskyy was one such driver whose license had been suspended after he reportedly refused a chemical breath test in Connecticut. Despite the license suspension in Conn., Zhukovskyy’s suspension was not processed in Mass. That failure to process his suspension allowed Zhukovskyy to get a job at Western Transport and obtain a commercial driver’s license.

A federal investigation determined Zhukovskyy was on drugs at the time of the June 2019 crash that killed seven and injured several more.

Zhukovskyy’s criminal trial on manslaughter charges is scheduled to begin in July.

Morin is now seeking monetary compensation of an amount to be determined in court “for personal injuries, medical expenses, lost wages and other financial loss, pain and suffering.”

To date, Morin has undergone 25 surgeries and still struggles to walk. Morin’s injuries have also forced him to lose out on wages because he can no longer work as a traveling trauma-trained nurse. Morin now works in insurance, making “a quarter to a half” as much as he did in his previous job.

Morin’s case may open the way for further lawsuits from people harmed by driver’s the Mass. RMV failed to suspend.

“It’s definitely a case that uncorks the bottle, because this isn’t a one-time shot where the registry has neglected to suspend a license,” Morin told the Berkshire Eagle. “How do we know somebody else wasn’t hurt?”

A spokesperson for the Mass. Department of Transportation (Mass. DOT) declined a Berkshire Eagle request for comment on the litigation.

Beyond the Mass. RMV’s alleged failure to suspend Zhukovskyy’s license, Morin was also angered to learn Stephanie Pollack, the former CEO of the Mass. DOT, was named the Deputy Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) under President Joe Biden’s administration. Pollack has been serving in the Biden administration role since January 2021.

“She got a promotion,” Moring told the Berkshire Eagle. “How do you have so many people die and a huge scandal in the registry, but get a promotion? To me, that’s unreasonable.”