A key piece of evidence has gone missing in the wrongful-death case of “60 Minutes” correspondent Bob Simon the back seat of the Lincoln town car in which he was a passenger before he was killed in a crash.
The back leather bench seat mysteriously disappeared sometime after a defendant in the case, limo company Skyline Credit Ride, conducted a “unilateral, secret inspection” of the totaled vehicle earlier this year, according to Simon family lawyer Howard Hershenhorn.
The seat is at heart of Skyline’s defense — that Simon was responsible for his own death because he wasn’t wearing a seat belt when the car crashed on the West Side Highway in February 2015. Simon’s side flatly disputes the allegation.
But now neither side has the physical evidence to prove their claims.
Skyline’s attorney and his experts “inspected the vehicle without any notice whatsoever to the other parties,” Hershenhorn fumes in court papers.
“The Skyline defendants are responsible for the spoliation of evidence,” he charges.
Skyline attorney Brian Harris counters in court papers that “we had every right to inspect the vehicle the way we did.” He said he viewed the 2010 Town car, which was crushed in the crash, at the NYPD’s Erie Basin Auto Pound in Brooklyn with a police escort.
“Certainly the back seat was not removed,” Harris said. “We never touched it . . . I would never do that. I would never risk my [law] license for it,” he said.
But someone detached the seat from the vehicle and Hershenhorn has a photo of what he believes is the missing bench outside the black car at the NYPD impound lot on Jan. 8, 2016.
Harris suggests that the tow company hired to move the car to a Queens storage facility in February may have left the seat behind.
But Hershenhorn has accused Harris of tampering with evidence to tip the scales.
“I wonder why he would do [the inspection] without notifying anybody else,” Hershenhorn says in court papers.
“Is it because he wants to be playing in the spirit of fairness? Or is it because he wanted some tactical advantage?”
Meanwhile, Reshad Abdul Fedahi, and his employer, Travez Transportation, are asking a judge to let them get rid of the car, which has racked up $5,000 in storage costs.
Simon’s widow, Francoise, sued in June 2015 after learning that Fedahi had nine license suspensions and two speeding convictions on his record.