Donna L. Horesco as Administratrix of the Estate of Michael P. Celone v. Joseph Dilley et al

 Case Background

On December 6, 2021, Plaintiff Donna L. Horesco, as Administratrix of the Estate of Michael P. Celone, filed a wrongful death lawsuit pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes §52-555. She filed the lawsuit in the Superior Court, J.D. of Waterbury (Case number: UWY-CV21-6063366-S), and Judge Robert D. Andrea presided over the case.


On November 27, 2020, at approximately 6:45 PM, Michael P. Celone, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, was walking eastbound on Main Street North (U.S. Route 6) in Woodbury, Connecticut. Celone, who resided in Unit #5A at the Holly House Apartments complex in Woodbury, was returning home after picking up groceries. Joseph Dilley, a resident of Southbury, Connecticut, was driving a 2016 Chevrolet Silverado K2500 Heavy Duty westbound on the same road. Dilley’s vehicle suddenly and without warning struck Celone, causing severe injuries. Emergency services responded to the scene of the collision, and Celone was immediately transported to Waterbury Hospital. After lingering between life and death for two days, Celone unfortunately succumbed to his injuries and passed away on November 29, 2020, at 2:55 PM. Donna L. Horesco was appointed as the Administratrix of Celone’s estate by the Connecticut Probate Court on May 5, 2021.


Michael Celone suffered extensive and severe injuries from the collision with the heavy-duty commercial pickup truck. These injuries were widespread, including trauma to multiple parts of his body. Specifically, Celone sustained a traumatic brain injury, injuries to his face, chest, and abdominal region/torso, as well as injuries to his right elbow, left leg, left knee, right leg, and right knee. The impact caused extensive bruising over Celone’s entire body, indicating the forceful nature of the collision. Beyond the physical injuries, Celone suffered severe shock to his nervous system, contributing to the overall trauma. In the two days following the accident, Celone endured significant pain and suffering, both mental and physical, before ultimately succumbing to his injuries.


The medical costs were extensive, covering a range of necessary treatments and care. These included expenses for emergency and hospital care at Waterbury Hospital, where Celone spent his final days. The claim also included costs for physicians’ care, prescription medications to manage Celone’s condition, and various diagnostic tests performed to assess his injuries. Rehabilitative treatment expenses were also incurred, likely in an attempt to improve Celone’s condition before his passing. Additionally, the plaintiff had to bear the costs of funeral and burial expenses following Celone’s death on November 29, 2020.

Beyond the quantifiable medical and funeral expenses, the plaintiff claimed significant non-economic damages. It was asserted that Celone was permanently deprived of his ability to carry on and enjoy life’s activities due to the fatal nature of his injuries. Moreover, the plaintiff claimed that Celone’s earning capacity was forever destroyed as a result of his untimely death. While Celone had retired from the U.S. Navy, this claim likely related to any potential future employment or pension benefits he might have been entitled to receive.

Key Arguments and Proceedings

Legal representation

  • Plaintiff(s):Donna L. Horesco as Administratrix of the Estate of Michael P. Celone



The plaintiff’s complaint alleged multiple grounds of negligence against Joseph Dilley. Specifically, it claimed that Dilley failed to keep a proper and reasonable lookout for pedestrians on the roadway. The plaintiff asserted that Dilley became distracted while operating his motor vehicle, leading to the collision. The complaint also stated that Dilley failed to take appropriate evasive action, such as turning the vehicle left or right, to avoid the collision when he should have been able to do so with reasonable exercise of his faculties.

Additionally, the plaintiff claimed that Dilley did not apply the brakes in time to avoid the collision, despite having the ability to do so if he had exercised reasonable care.The plaintiff alleged that Dilley failed to keep his vehicle under proper and reasonable control and was operating at an unreasonable speed given the traffic, weather, and road conditions. This included a specific claim of speeding in violation of Connecticut General Statutes § 14-219.

Further negligence claims included Dilley’s alleged failure to sound his horn or give any warning of the impending collision, and operating his motor vehicle without first ensuring that his path of travel was clear of pedestrians on the roadway.

The lawsuit also named Dilley Electric, LLC as a defendant. They identified the company as the registered owner of the vehicle Joseph Dilley was operating at the time of the collision. The plaintiff claimed that Dilley was operating the vehicle with the knowledge and permission of Dilley Electric, LLC, making the company vicariously responsible for Celone’s death and the resulting damages under Connecticut General Statutes § 52-182, § 52-183, and/or § 14-154a.


Joseph Dilley and Dilley Electric, LLC denied most allegations in the plaintiff’s complaint. They specifically refuted claims about the accident’s occurrence and all negligence accusations against Joseph Dilley. Dilley Electric admitted to owning the vehicle and allowing Joseph Dilley to operate it but denied vicarious responsibility for the incident.

In their special defense, the defendants claimed that Michael P. Celone was negligent and that his own negligence was the actual and proximate cause of any injuries or losses claimed. They alleged that Celone failed to use appropriate care under the circumstances, failed to keep a proper lookout, was inattentive to his surroundings, failed to make proper use of his senses and faculties, and failed to ensure his own safety given the existing conditions.

Expert Testimony

Daniel W. O’Neill, a Professional Engineer and Accident Reconstructionist, testified for the defense that there was insufficient evidence to determine key accident details. Dr. Scott E. Lukas, a pharmacologist and toxicologist, provided evidence on Celone’s high blood alcohol level and its impairing effects.

Michael Cei, an accident reconstruction expert for the plaintiff, argued that Dilley’s inattentiveness was a substantial factor in the accident. Dr. Robert Powers, a toxicologist for the plaintiff, stated that Celone’s intoxication was not a significant cause of the accident. Retired Sergeant Charles Grasso, testifying on accident reconstruction and intoxicated behavior for the plaintiff, claimed that Dilley’s inattentiveness and speeding caused the accident, which could have been avoided with reasonable care.

Jury Verdict

The jury reached a verdict on June 27, 2024, in the case against Joseph Dilley and Dilley Electric, LLC. They found in favor of the defendants on the issue of liability.

Court Documents:



Jury Verdict