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>Victim of rear-end crash accepts $1.35 million

Robert R. Howard, who suffered severe back injuries when his vehicle was rear-ended three years ago, has accepted a $1.35 million insurance settlement, his attorneys said Tuesday.

Howard, 41, of the Town of Tonawanda, will receive his full cash settlement -- worked out through pretrial mediation before State Supreme Court Justice Donna M. Siwek -- within the next 28 days, said attorneys Christopher J. O'Brien and Steven Boyd.

Howard was rear-ended by a leased car driven by Ralph J. Dona, 64, also of the Town of Tonawanda, in the northbound lane of Colvin Avenue at Ebling Avenue in Tonawanda at about 3 p.m. May 5, 2004.

Doctors have told Howard, who will be taking pain medication for the rest of his life and cannot stand or sit for prolonged periods, that he will never be able to hold a full-time job again, O'Brien and Boyd said.

The insurance settlement comes from carriers for Dona's employer, the out-of-state Washington Inventory concern, and Lease Plan U.S.A., the Albany vehicle leasing company that owned the vehicle he was driving on the job.

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