AUBURN HILLS (WWJ) - Misdemeanor criminal charges have been dropped against the Royal Oak man accused of injuring Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and his driver in a car crash last year.
Anthony Prainito, 31, pleaded guilty Thursday to failing to yield and was fined $125. He also was fined $65 for failing to wear a seatbelt. In return, a charge of causing serious impairment of a bodily function was dropped.
“The district judge had no choice but to drop those criminal misdemeanor charges against Anthony Prainito because Patterson and his driver, Jim Cram, refused to submit medical records to prove that the accident caused the criminal charge of a serious impairment of a bodily function,” said WWJ Legal Analyst Charlie Langton.
“A spokesperson for Patterson has refused to give the answers as to why the medical records weren’t released and as of right now, we don’t know why Patterson dismissed those criminal charges,” he continued.
Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper told the Detroit Free Press Patterson wouldn’t cooperate with her office.
“He’s got the right to not release his records, but we were getting two different versions of how extensive they were, and now the public will never know,” she said.
The charges stem from an August crash in Auburn Hills. Patterson, 73, was the front seat passenger in a car that was traveling eastbound on Walton Boulevard, when it collided with a car driven by Prainito that was turning left at the intersection of Opdyke Road. Patterson’s vehicle had a green light and the right-of-way, according to police.
Neither Prainito, Patterson or Cram, a 60-year-old retired Michigan State Police officer, were wearing a seat belt. Patterson was seriously injured and didn’t return to work for nearly three months. Cram, Patterson’s driver, is a quadriplegic after the crash.
Even though the criminal charges have been dropped, the case may not end there. Patterson and Cram could still sue Prainito.
“There’s no connection between the dropping of the criminal case and possibly suing Prainito for money and damages,” said Langton. “This does not prevent a civil lawsuit by Patterson against Prainito, and he has three years from the date of the accident to do that.”
But, there’s a catch.
“Patterson, if he does decide to sue, he must release his medical records to prove he was injured in the car accident,” said Langton.
So, why would someone refuse to release their medical records?
“It could be political reasons, you never know,” said Langton. “If the medical records are severe, maybe they show that Patterson has problems, perhaps, with his health and with his mind. We don’t really know the injuries that could affect his ability to do his job, and so maybe for strategic reasons, and I am only guessing here.”
“But again, they’re only criminal charges and Patterson probably doesn’t care. In the big picture, if he is making a good recovery and he can do his job on his own, that’s good,” Langton said.
There’s no word yet on whether or not Patterson or Cram will file a lawsuit against Prainito, but they have until August 2015 to decide.