Welcome to “WIW 50” or “WIW L” for those of you who took Latin in high school or those of you who are Denver Bronco’s fans. (The Broncos won Super Bowl L.) We thank you for taking time out of your busy day to read our newsletter. Should any of you wish to discuss the potential value of your cases please give us a call at 718-619-4601. Now on to this week’s cases.
MURPHY V. FORD (53508/14)
AFFIRMED: June 12, 2019, Appellate Division, Second Department
VENUE: Westchester County
TYPE OF CASE: Automobile Liability
FACTS: A 58-year-old women was struck when a man lost control of his car while executing a left turn.
- The plaintiff suffered a L-1 burst fracture with retropulsion of fracture fragments into the spinal cord.
- The plaintiff sustained a C-2 displaced fracture and T-12 fracture.
- The plaintiff underwent a vertebral artery dissection.
- The plaintiff underwent a multi level fusion surgery from T-10 to L-3 with insertion of three rods and 10 screws.
- After the accident, the plaintiff spent 27 days in the hospital and a rehabilitation facilitation.
- The plaintiff complained of continuing unrelenting pain requiring narcotic pain medication.
- The plaintiff claimed that she was unable to resume her prior life activities such as walking three miles a day, kayaking, swimming, and biking.
- The defense counsel argued that the plaintiff’s lingering condition is attributable to a 2003 accident in which she fell down the stairs. The plaintiff argued that her 2003 accident resulted in injuries not related to her current back pain. Defense counsel countered with medical records which show that she sought medical care for her back multiple times prior to the instant accident.
AFFIRMED: A Westchester County jury awarded $250,000 for the past three years and $111,500 for the future year of pain and suffering. The Appellate Division, Second Department affirmed the jury’s $361,500 verdict. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, $361,500 in 2019 is equivalent to $397,227.48 in 2021.
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 a 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 C5-C6 and C6-C7 disc herniations.
- 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 and epidural steroid injections.
- 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. (At this point in the summary it should be noted the defendant had a New York State minimum limit $25/50,000 policy.)
- 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.
REDUCED: 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.
TARPLEY, ET AL. V. NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT AUTHORITY (31972/10)
REDUCED: November 20, 2019, Appellate Division, Second Department
VENUE: Supreme Queens
TYPE OF CASE: Auto Liability
FACTS: A couple’s car was struck on the front driver’s side by a city bus while it was stationary, having just been pulled over by a traffic ticketing agent.
- While both the husband and wife are plaintiffs, the husband suffered the majority of the injuries.
- The husband was diagnosed with cervical and lumbar herniated discs with radiculopathy and myelopathy.
- 10 months after the accident he underwent an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion surgery. The surgery resulted in a large, bulbous, keloid (raised) scar on the front of his neck.
- The husband also underwent a laminectomy for the placement of a spinal cord stimulator to relieve chronic lower back pain two years later.
- He claims to continue to experience chronic pain, despite surgical interventions, takes oral pain medication and receives pain-killing injections, both of which make him feel drowsy.
- The plaintiff claims that as a result of the injuries he sustained in the accident, he is unable to drive long distances, participate in recreational sports, or play with his grandchildren.
- The plaintiff’s treating spinal surgeon opined that the plaintiff will likely need subsequent surgical procedures, including the insertion of a plate and screws in his lumbar spine.
REDUCED: The jury awarded $3,000,000 for past and $7,000,000 for future pain and suffering. The Appellate Division, Second Department found that this deviated materially from what would be considered reasonable compensation, therefore reduced the awards to $1,000,000 for past pain and suffering and $2,000,000 for future pain and suffering.
Thanks again for reading along with us for the first 50 issues of What’s it Worth!