Literacy Project teacher’s family files wrongful death suit

  • Mark Nakib Mark Nakib

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

SPRINGFIELD — The family of a former Literacy Project teacher killed while walking her dog last year in Holyoke has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the man they say was behind the wheel of the car that killed her.

Zoe Rosenthal, 52, of Holyoke, died after she was struck and killed by a vehicle while walking in a crosswalk Nov. 27. She was hit by a 63-year-old male driver at about 6:35 p.m at the intersection of Lyman and Canal streets in Holyoke. She was taken to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield and died two days later of her injuries.

Rosenthal’s daughters Tiffany and Chelsea Castillo filed a civil lawsuit in Hampden Superior Court in March against Charles J. Davignon, Charles J. Davignon Real Estate Agency Inc., and Davignon Properties LLC.

“We think the facts are pretty clear that this should not have happened, that there are reasons why Mr. Davignon should not have been driving,” said Charlotte Glinka, an attorney representing the Castillos. “We are hoping that there will be an outcome that will give these two daughters some sense of justice.”

Davignon declined to comment when reached by phone Tuesday afternoon. A Holyoke police motor vehicle crash report states that Davignon told police that he did not see Rosenthal in a crosswalk and hit her.

Rosenthal was one of three teachers working at the Literacy Project’s Northampton chapter at the James House Community Center on Gothic Street. She taught 25 to 30 students annually in two courses: one on adult basic education and another preparing students to earn their GED. The Literacy Project is an adult education program headquartered in Greenfield that teaches English reading, writing and math.

The lawsuit alleges that Rosenthal’s death was an act of negligence on Davignon’s part. In total, there are three claims of negligence and three claims of gross negligence in the lawsuit.

“It has been devastating for these two women,” Glinka said of Rosenthal’s daughters. “When they first learned about the incident, their mother was still alive — she didn’t die at the scene … When they first got word of this, they thought she was alive and that his was a minor thing.”

Glinka said Rosenthal’s daughters donated her organs “so there are others who will live on because of Zoe but these two young women lost the most important person in their lives.”

Emily Cutts can be reached at ecutts@gazettenet.com.