Welcome to February! Although it is the shortest month of the year we celebrate our nation’s presidents, the contributions made by African Americans to our country and the importance of love, admiration and friendship. In some years, February is also the month we dig out of lots of snow. Don’t strain your back!
CINDY RAOUL V. ALBERT L. SIRENO, JOSEPH SIRENO, DANIELLE COOK (508940/15)
VENUE: Supreme Kings
TYPE OF CASE: Automobile Liability
FACTS: A 32-year-old case worker was the front seat passenger of the car involved in a 2 vehicle collision in an intersection.
- The plaintiff claimed that she suffered a tear of her left shoulder’s supraspinatus tendon (part of the rotator cuff).
- The plaintiff claimed to suffer herniations of her C5-C6 and C6-C7.
- The plaintiff claimed to experience annular-tissue tears of her L2-L3, L3-L4, and L4-L5 discs.
- The plaintiff claimed that her herniated discs caused impingement of spinal nerves.
- The plaintiff also claimed that her left shoulder developed bursitis.
- The plaintiff underwent physical therapy, the administration of an epidural injection of a steroid-based painkiller, and the administration of a painkilling injection that was directed to her left shoulder.
- The plaintiff’s treating physician recommended a discectomy, which would have involved excision of portions of the plaintiff’s L2-L3, L3-L4, and L4-L5 discs, however the plaintiff declined to undergo the procedure as she claimed that she could not handle the economic loss which would accompany taking time off from work.
- The plaintiff claimed that her injuries prevented her from working for 20 weeks after the accident.
- The plaintiff claimed that her back, left shoulder, and neck remain painful and the pain prevents her from standing for long periods of time and hinders her ability to perform household chores, which includes parenting an infant.
- Defense counsel argued that the plaintiff did not suffer a serious injury as defined by Insurance Law §5102(d).
- The defense’s expert orthopedist opined that the plaintiff only suffered sprains of the cervical region, lumbar region, and left shoulder. He also opined the plaintiff’s injuries resolved without a residual disability.
- The defense’s expert radiologist opined that the plaintiff suffered bulges of intervertebral discs without herniation and the MRIs depicted degeneration of the left shoulder with no evidence of traumatic injury
VERDICT: The jury awarded $250,000 for past and future pain and suffering, however the parties agreed that the damages could not exceed $25,000, the limit of the defendant’s insurance coverage.
REGISTER V. SAS MORRISON LLC (303391/14)
REDUCED: December 17, 2020, Appellate Division, First Department
VENUE: Supreme Bronx
TYPE OF CASE: Slip and Fall
FACTS: A 36-year-old woman was asleep in her apartment when leaky pipes caused ceiling plaster to fall on her. To make matters worse, when she got out of bed, she slipped and fell on the water and debris from the ceiling
- The plaintiff went to the emergency room two weeks after the accident complaining of back and ankle pain. She was treated and released without additional treatment for six weeks.
- The plaintiff underwent extensive chiropractic treatment and more than 20 spinal injections.
- The plaintiff claimed to suffer herniated discs at L4-L5 and L5-S1 with radiculopathy and disc desiccation. This injury required a lumbar fusion four years after the incident.
- In addition the plaintiff suffered a partial tear of her Achilles tendon in her right ankle.
- The plaintiff claimed to continue to suffer from low back and ankle pain, limited range of motion, and inability to play with her children, dance, or do chores.
- The plaintiff’s treating physiatrist opined that she would need extensive future treatment.
- The defense counsel argued that the back injury was not related to the incident.
REDUCTION: The jury awarded $1 million for the past 5.5 years and $6 million for the future 40 years of pain and suffering. The appellate court reduced the future pain and suffering damages award to $2 million, for a total of $3 million.
MCCULLOUGH V. ONE BRYANT PARK (113802/09)
AFFIRMED: December 29, 2020, Appellate Division, First Department
VENUE: Supreme New York
TYPE OF CASE: Workplace Liability
FACTS: A 45-year-old ironworker was working on a construction site when he tripped and fell into an uncovered drain hole.
- Immediately after the accident, the plaintiff complained of pain in his right foot and ankle and was treated with ice and ace bandages at the on-site medical clinic.
- One month after the accident, the plaintiff visited a podiatrist who prescribed pain medication and physical therapy.
- The plaintiff suffered an anterior talofibular ligaments tears in his right ankle and partially in his left ankle.
- The plaintiff underwent a modified Brostrom procedure to repair a ligament of his right ankle seven months after the incident.
- The plaintiff underwent a sutured ligament, motorized chondroplasty of the right ankle two years after the first surgery.
- The plaintiff worked until shortly before her first surgery.
- The plaintiff claimed to suffer from continued, worsening pain in her right ankle.
- The plaintiff was diagnosed with a permanent and progressive reflex sympathy dystrophy (regional pain syndrome) and progressive, debilitating arthritis.
- The plaintiff claimed that she was unable to stand for 15 minutes without pain, swelling and intense burning sensations.
AFFIRMATION: The jury awarded $1,000,000 for the past eight years and $750,000 for the future 25 years of pain and suffering. The Appellate Division, First Department affirmed the $1,750,000 jury award.