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A tentative, out-of-court settlement has been reached in a lawsuit filed by two couples against Niagara County and the Town of Cambria over a 1994 traffic accident.

The sides agreed to seal documents relating to the payments by the town and county, but they presumably won't stay secret for long.

The county is self-insured and by law, any payment of more than $25,000 from the self-insurance fund must be approved by the County Legislature. Paul J. Suozzi of Hurwitz & Fine, representing the county, confirmed that the settlement will be on the Sept. 1 Legislature agenda.

Attorney Terrence M. Connors, who represented one couple, also said the settlement was more than the minimum required for a Legislature vote.

The town will contribute to the settlement as well, but its share will be covered by an insurance company, Suozzi said.

Gerald and Ruth Bennett of Williamsville and Jeffrey Budde of Porter were seriously injured Aug. 20, 1994, when their vehicles collided at Lower Mountain and Baer roads in Cambria.

Niagara County Sheriff's Deputy Frank J. Gigliotti's original accident report states the crash appeared to have been caused by the lack of a stop sign for southbound traffic on Baer Road. The sign apparently had been stolen.

Budde was southbound on Baer in his van, and collided with the Bennetts' westbound pickup truck. The accident occurred during the noon hour on a Saturday.

The plaintiffs, which include Budde's wife, Patricia, charged that the town and county were negligent in not replacing the stop sign, and also claimed that other signage on Baer Road leading up to the intersection was inadequate.

The town claimed the stop sign was the county's responsibility. The county claimed it was unrealistic to expect the sign to be replaced immediately on a Saturday, especially since its absence was not reported before the accident.

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