Her crisis outside Conscience Point may end up costing Lizzie Grubman plenty. But her freedom? No one’s seriously thinking that’s what’s at stake – except, that is, for her lawyers. Jail is very much on the minds of the people in the Grubman camp. They believe that there’s been a rush to judgment, motivated partly by Suffolk County politics and class issues. And so they’re making with renewed vigor a case they feel should be obvious: It was an accident. “If anyone would think the story through,” says Stephen Scaring, one of two Long Island lawyers handling Grubman’s case, “they would see that the vehicle she was driving had 325 horsepower. It’s probably the most powerful SUV in the world. If she really did what the bouncer said – that is, she intended to back into the crowd – she would have taken the building down. This was clearly an accident. We’re hoping that at the end of the day, everybody sees that.”
Scaring’s point of view might make good financial sense to the victims as well. “The people who are injured are quite rightfully going to find lawyers to sue,” says one source with knowledge of the case. “Which, frankly, Allen Grubman Lizzie’s high-powered-lawyer father would like, because he knows the only way to solve the problem is to pay everybody who got hurt. That’s the only way to end it. If you have a broken ankle, you’ll be mad. But if you have a broken ankle and a big check, you’re not nearly as mad.”
In other words, the interests of the Grubmans and the victims are actually quite similar. “I think it’s to all their benefits for it to be found to be an unintentional act, so insurance will cover it,” says a prominent Long Island lawyer. “I’m sure this doorman, Scott Conlon, who gave a statement that it was intentional, his lawyer’s probably going to tell him to reconsider.”
The problem is that Suffolk County district attorney James Catterson, up for re-election in a heavily Catholic, law-and-order county, is pushing for a criminal indictment. And the speed at which he’s doing it is making it difficult for Grubman’s team to put forth a reasonable “accident” argument and to try to settle with the victims.
It’s hard to find anyone in Manhattan who believes that Grubman intentionally gunned her car into the crowd – but many are realizing just how far Suffolk County really is from Manhattan.
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