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Published December 05 2012

Lawsuit filed in 2010 fatal crash on Fargo's 32nd Avenue South

FARGO – The father of a woman killed in a bus-motorcycle crash here in 2010 has filed a personal injury lawsuit against the bus driver as well as the church that employed her and owned the bus.

Merlina Ibralic, 26, was a passenger on the motorcycle driven by her husband, Salih Ibralic, 31. Both died as a result of the crash on Sept. 30, 2010.

At about 7:30 that evening, the motorcycle was going west on 32nd Avenue South when it collided with the passenger side of an eastbound bus turning left at 28th Street into the Dr. James Carlson Library parking lot.

Merlina Ibralic’s father, Mirsad Kocic, filed a lawsuit Tuesday in Cass County District Court against the bus driver, Kathleen Johnson, and First United Methodist Church of Fargo.

The civil lawsuit seeks a judgment of not less than $50,000. It claims Johnson “made a sudden and abrupt left turn in the direct path of the motorcycle on which Ibralic was a passenger.”

The lawsuit claims negligence on Johnson’s part for failing to keep a proper lookout, yield the right of way and maintain proper control of her vehicle.

Dan Vogel, the attorney representing Johnson and the church, said Wednesday his clients deny the allegations related to liability and any negligence by Johnson.

Cass County prosecutors declined to charge Johnson, who was 51 years old at the time of the crash.

According to the report summarizing why charges were declined, Johnson told investigators she checked for oncoming traffic before making the left turn and believed it was clear. She did not see the motorcycle, the report stated.

The report also stated that one witness indicated that he saw the traffic light turn red before the motorcycle entered the intersection, and he said the motorcycle was accelerating. Another witness said it appeared the motorcycle was entering the intersection on a late yellow or red light, the report stated.

Kim Brust, attorney for Kocic, said whether a citation was issued is not admissible as evidence in such cases. He also referred to North Dakota’s comparative fault law, which allows a party to recover damages if their fault doesn’t exceed the combined fault of the other parties involved.

“The person who had no fault at all is Merlina Ibralic, and the family is certainly devastated by the tragedy of Merlina’s death,” he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528

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