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Court bars damages for family of girl who drowned at Falls

The Appellate Division of State Supreme Court on Friday upheld a 2012 lower court ruling that threw out a lawsuit filed against the state by the family of a 12-year-old girl who drowned at Niagara Falls State Park Aug. 14, 2008.

The suit was brought by Gus M. Farinella, attorney and executor for the victim, Magdalena M. Lubowska of the Bronx. The girl fell into the lower Niagara River during an outing with 23 other children, organized by a Niagara Falls bed-and-breakfast that catered to young people of Polish descent.

The operators, Eva Hedges and her son Timothy Hedges, were not prosecuted. A warrant was issued in 2010 for Timothy Hedges on a charge of endangering the welfare of a child, but he had moved to Poland by then.

His mother, a U.S. citizen, never was charged in the drowning but was indicted on unrelated welfare fraud charges. Eva Hedges settled that case in December 2010 by pleading guilty to a felony and agreeing to repay $15,473 to the Social Security Administration and $128 to the county Social Services Department.