A construction worker whose right leg was amputated after a workplace accident agreed on May 15 to a $6.6 million settlement of his Bergen County suit, Pascucci v. JG Drywall.
On Nov. 18, 2009, Steven Pascucci was on an extension ladder at a demolition project in Leonia, using a sledge hammer to pound a steel beam, when he fell eight feet to the ground.
He suffered multiple fractures and nerve damage due to lack of blood supply in both legs and underwent seven surgeries related to the fractures and blood loss. Swelling and pain in his right leg worsened over time, and three years after the accident he elected to have that leg amputated above the knee. Now 51, he is fitted with a prosthetic device.
Pascucci, represented by James Lynch and Arthur Lynch of Lynch, Lynch, Held & Rosenberg in Hasbrouck Heights, sued JG Drywall of Elmwood Park, the general contractor; and Triple B Fabricating of Passaic, the subcontractor for steel demolition. He claimed the defendants failed to provide a safe workplace, as industry standards dictate that a ladder should not be used as a work platform in a demolition project.
The defendants claimed Pascucci's employer, Adele Erectors of Trenton, was responsible for his safety; that Pascucci was negligent for swinging a sledge hammer from a ladder; and that a scissor lift and cherry picker were available for his use. They also claimed he failed to heal from nerve damage because of his cigarette smoking.
The settlement was reached during jury selection before Superior Court Judge Alexander Carver III. JG Drywall, which had a $1 million liability policy with Gotham Ins. Co. and a $5 million excess policy with American Guarantee and Liability, is paying $3.4 million. Triple B, which had a $1 million liability policy with Peerless Ins. Co. and a $5 million excess policy with RSUI Indemnity, is paying $3.2 million.
JG Drywall was represented by John Gonzo, head of a Hackensack firm, who confirms the settlement. Triple B Fabricators' lawyer, Gerald Kaplan of Methfessel & Werbel in Edison, did not return a call.
By Charles Toutant
$4.7M for Elevator Injury
Thomas v. Schindler Elevator Corp.: A Hudson County jury awarded $4.735 million on May 16 to a man who injured his neck riding in an elevator.
Ralph Thomas, of Wayne, was on his way down from the 27th floor of the 37-story Newport Tower in Jersey City on Feb. 27, 2009, on an elevator descending at 1,000 feet per minute, when it came to an abrupt halt, says his lawyer, Edward Capozzi of Seigel Capozzi in Ridgewood.
Thomas, then 47, herniated a disk in his neck at C5-6, for which he had replacement surgery. He can no longer engage in former activities like golf, skiing and softball, Capozzi says.
Thomas sued elevator maker Schindler Elevator Corp. and building owner Brookfield Properties.
At trial before Superior Court Judge Martha Royster, the jury found negligence by both companies but no proximate cause regarding Brookfield. Schindler was 100 percent liable for the entire $4.735 million verdict, all non-economic damages, including $235,000 on a per quod claim by Thomas' wife.
Capozzi says the defendants never offered more than $300,000 to settle and tried to blame the accident on a transient power disturbance but a witness from PSE&G denied that.
Defense lawyers James Sonageri, of Sonageri & Fallon in Hackensack, for Schindler, and William Smith, of Faust, Goetz, Schenker & Blee in New York, for Brookfield, did not return calls.
By Mary Pat Gallagher
$1.6M for Pedestrian-Bus Accident
Pinkney v. NJ Transit: A pedestrian who had a portion of his right leg amputated after he was struck by a NJ Transit bus has received $1.625 million.
The plaintiff, Warner Pinkney, now 56, and NJ Transit agreed to the settlement on March 13, shortly before jury selection was set to begin in Essex County. The lump-sum settlement was paid on April 24, says Pinkney's attorney, Leonia solo Marc Winograd.
According to the suit, Pinkney was crossing South Day Street at the intersection of Freeway Drive West in Orange, on Feb. 5, 2009. Just as he got back on the sidewalk, a NJ Transit bus making a right turn onto South Day Street came up onto the sidewalk and struck him.
Pinkney sustained multiple fractures and ligament damage in his right leg. Eventually, gangrene set in and the leg had to be amputated below the knee, Winograd says.
The bus did not stop and Pinkney was unable to get a license plate number or bus number. He initially filed a lawsuit against NJ Transit and another bus company, Coach USA. During discovery, it was determined that three NJ Transit buses had made right turns onto South Day about the same time, and Coach USA was dismissed as a defendant.
NJ Transit, which is self-insured, retained Thomas Hart, of Westfield's Ruprecht Hart Weeks & Ricciardulli. He did not return a reporter's call.
By Michael Booth
$1M for Construction Accident
Silva v. UMDNJ: A worker who lost vision in his right eye after a construction accident settled his Essex County medical-malpractice suit for $1 million.
On Nov. 17, 2008, Paul Silva was drilling holes in a metal plate at a Newark construction site when the drill bit broke and a piece of metal struck his eye, according to his lawyer, Bruce Nagel of Nagel Rice in Roseland.
Silva received treatment at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey's University Hospital in Newark. Emergency physician Janine Grayson diagnosed a corneal laceration and traumatic cataract, and Silva underwent a CT scan showing that an object was lodged in his eye, Nagel says.
Silva was transferred to the hospital's eye clinic, where ophthalmologist Ronald Rescigno sutured the laceration without first removing the metal.
Silva claimed that Grayson failed to advise Rescigno about the metal shard and Rescigno failed to review the CT scan results.
Silva now is blind in his right eye; experiences pain, headaches, light sensitivity and floaters; has difficulty reading and driving; and has been unable to work, says Nagel, who was assisted in the case by associate Greg Kohn.
The parties, while in discovery with expert witnesses, settled on April 22 during mediation with retired state court judge Jack Lintner, now a partner at Norris, McLaughlin & Marcus in Bridgewater.
UMDNJ's lawyer, Jay Scott MacNeill of Post, Polak, Goodsell, MacNeill & Strauchler in Roseland, confirms the settlement.
By David Gialanella