WILKES-BARRE – An attorney representing Plymouth borough is appealing a Luzerne County judge’s ruling in a wrongful death lawsuit involving a crash in 2007.

The estate of Eric Vannucchi filed the lawsuit against the borough, two police officers, AVP Transport and Sarah Marquis in 2008 through Attorney Neil O’Donnell.

Vannucchi, then 19, was killed when he was struck by a vehicle driven by Marquis, 30, on East Main Street on May 29, 2007. Police stopped Vannucchi when they couldn’t see the license plate on the motorcycle.

Police contacted AVP Transport to tow the motorcycle after they learned Vannucchi did not have a valid driver’s license.

While talking to tow operator John Paul Kovach after the motorcycle had been placed on a flatbed, Vannucchi was struck by Marquis, who sped away.

Marquis pleaded guilty to homicide by vehicle and served less than two years in state prison. She was paroled on Jan. 30, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

The lawsuit alleges officers John Vanderlick and Anthony Gorey and the tow company were negligent and that resulted in Vannucchi’s death.

Vanderlick and Gorey left the scene to respond to another police emergency after Kovach arrived with a flatbed trailer. Their absence caused a safety traffic hazard, the lawsuit alleges.

Kovach was not properly trained in safety tow operations and did not wear or provide a reflective vest to Vannucchi, nor did he ignite flares or set up cones on the roadway to warn motorists of an emergency, according to the lawsuit.

Attorneys for Plymouth borough and AVP Transport sought a speedy disposition, also called summary judgment, without the need for a trial.

Plymouth borough and the two officers invoked governmental immunity, claiming they could not be held accountable in Vannucchi’s death.

When Vanderlick and Gorey left the scene to respond to another police emergency, they claimed Vannucchi was standing on the sidewalk.

Vannucchi and Kovach, who is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit, engaged in a five-minute conversation in the middle of the travel lane after the motorcycle had been placed on the flat bed, according to court records.

Judge William Amesbury denied summary judgment to both Plymouth borough and AVP Transport in an opinion he released on July 5.

Attorney Eugene Hickey, representing Plymouth borough, recently filed an appeal in Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court.

Hickey could not be reached for comment on Friday.

The crash initiated legislation sponsored by state Rep. Phyllis Mundy, D-Kingston.

Marquis admitted to drinking alcohol prior to striking Vannucchi, according to the criminal complaint.

However, police were unable to test Marquis’ blood alcohol level, which may have resulted in more serious charges that have harsher sentences, because she was found 10 hours later in an Ashley residence.

Mundy introduced House Bill 227 that would close a loophole in state law that makes it legally advantageous for a drunk driver to flee the scene of an accident rather than stop and offer assistance.

A hit-and-run accident when death occurs is graded as a third-degree felony with a mandatory sentence of one year.

Mundy’s legislation would reclassify a hit and run accident that results in a fatality as a second-degree felony, increase a term of imprisonment for each victim and raise penalties if the hit-and-run accident involves alcohol or a controlled substance.

No action has been taken by the state House of Representatives on Mundy’s bill since Jan. 26, when it was referred to the House Transportation Committee.