We hope you enjoyed the Holidays and welcome to 2022! Although the path ahead has been clouded by the outbreak of the Omnicron strain, we hope the New Year brings greater health, happiness and prosperity to all. Now on to this week’s cases.
SASHA MEJIA V. MARTIN PEREZ MARTINEZ, PAULA MAUNSELL (BTS-300041-20)
VENUE: Bronx Civil
TYPE OF CASE: Automobile Liability
FACTS: A 27-year-old clerk was driving through an intersection when her car was struck on the right side by another vehicle.
- Immediately after the accident, the plaintiff underwent x-rays and minor treatment.
- The plaintiff claimed she suffered trauma-induced bulges of her C4-C5, C5-C6, L3-L4, and L4-L5 intervertebral discs.
- The plaintiff claimed she developed residual impingement of spinal nerves.
- The plaintiff sustained a contusion on her right knee, which developed mild effusion, swollenness caused by a buildup of joint-lubricating fluid.
- Two weeks after the accident, the plaintiff began a 13 week course of conservative treatment including acupuncture, chiropractic manipulation, and physical therapy.
- The plaintiff received epidural steroid injections in her cervical spine.
- The plaintiff claimed that her injury prevented her from sitting for prolonged periods of time compelling her to switch careers.
- The plaintiff claimed residual pain and limitations prevent her from performing physical activities.
- Defense counsel argued that the plaintiff did not suffer a serious injury as defined by Section 5102 of the Insurance Law.
VERDICT: The parties agreed that the damages could not exceed $90,000, but they must equal or exceed $10,000. The jury awarded $500,000 in pain and suffering; however the plaintiff recovered the stipulated limit of $90,000.
RAUL MATOS V. STEPHEN HIRALDO (151150/17)
VENUE: Supreme New York
TYPE OF CASE: Intentional Tort
FACTS: A 36-year-old clerk became involved in an altercation at the entryway of his apartment building when two other tenants were arguing. After exchanging words, the plaintiff was struck, fell, and hit his face on a handrail. The plaintiff sued for assault and battery.
- Two days after the altercation, the plaintiff sought medical attention, claiming that his jaw was painful.
- An x-ray revealed the plaintiff suffered fractures of each side of his mandible.
- Three days later, the plaintiff underwent an open reduction and internal fixation of fractured components of his left jaw.
- The plaintiff underwent a closed reduction of his right jaw with the application of an elastic restraint system.
- The plaintiff claimed his injuries caused dental malocclusion, or misaligned teeth.
- The plaintiff received physical therapy.
- The plaintiff’s fixation hardware was removed a year after the surgery.
- The plaintiff claimed that he suffers residual pain and limitations.
VERDICT: The jury found the defendant had battered but not assaulted the plaintiff. The jury also found that the defendant was not acting in self-defense, however the plaintiff contributed to the battery, therefore the two shared equal liability. The jury awarded $250,000 in pain and suffering, however due to the comparative-negligence reduction, the plaintiff recovered $125,000.
CHARLES BROOKS V. STAGECOACH ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, MIDDLE COUNTRY CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT (611891/18)
VENUE: Supreme Suffolk
TYPE OF CASE: Workplace Liability
FACTS: A 51-year-old window-installation specialist was removing a window frame at a school when he fell 6 ft through the platform and onto the ground.
- 12 days after the accident, the plaintiff visited an orthopedist complaining of pain in his left elbow.
- The plaintiff claimed he suffered a tear of his left, nondominant shoulder’s supraspinatus tendon and subscapularis tendon, both components of the rotator cuff.
- The plaintiff also claimed that he sustained a tear of his left, nondominant shoulder’s glenoid labrum and an impingement of his left shoulder
- The plaintiff claimed over time his left shoulder developed adhesive capsulitis, or “frozen shoulder.”
- The plaintiff also claimed he developed bursitis and tenosynovitis, inflammation of a tendon’s sheath.
- The plaintiff sustained a tear of his left elbow’s triceps tendon.
- The plaintiff developed entrapment of the ulnar nerve, with residual effects including carpal tunnel syndrome and cubital tunnel syndrome, a neurological condition involving pain and/or numbness of a finger, forearm, and/or hand.
- The plaintiff claimed his elbow developed bursitis and tendinitis.
- The plaintiff also claimed he suffered herniation of his C4-C5 intervertebral disc.
- The plaintiff claimed he developed residual impingement of spinal nerve and resultant radiculopathy.
- The plaintiff underwent physical therapy and the administration of three epidural steroid injections.
- Two months after the accident, plaintiff underwent decompressive arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder including the debridement of damaged tissue.
- Nine months after the accident, the plaintiff underwent manipulation under anesthesia of his left shoulder after which he resumed physical therapy.
- Eleven months after the accident, the plaintiff underwent an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion including a discectomy and excision of his C4-C5 disc, fusion of the corresponding level of his spine, and implantation of stabilizing hardware, which comprised a plate and screws.
- Sixteen months after the accident, the plaintiff underwent surgical repair of his left elbow’s triceps tendon including debridement of damaged tissue.
- The plaintiff claims that his back, neck, left elbow, left shoulder, and left wrist remain painful, which prevents his performance of manual labor. The plaintiff stopped working soon after the accident and has not returned to work since.
- The plaintiff claimed that he will require lifelong physical therapy, surgery addressing his carpal tunnel syndrome, further fusion of his left spine’s surgical region, and that his left elbow would require further surgery.
- The defense counsel claimed that the plaintiff’s remaining injuries were due to degenerative conditions, not the accident. The defense counsel also argued that the plaintiff does not require any future treatment and that he can perform some type of work.
MEDIATED SETTLEMENT: The defendant’s primary insurer tendered it’s $2 million policy and its excess insurer agreed to pay $1.2 million from a $3 million policy. The parties agreed to settle for $3.2 million.