An Essex County judge on June 7 approved a $10.5 million settlement on behalf of a child who was allegedly brain damaged due to oxygen loss when she was trapped in a motorized parking-lot gate.
According to the suit, Chambers v. 440 Elizabeth Avenue Corp., Aniyah Chambers was playing outside her father's apartment at 440 Elizabeth Ave. in Newark on May 6, 2006, when the lateral moving gate trapped the 7-year-old and cut off her breathing for an unknown period of time.
Chambers' mental development stopped at that point and she suffers from severe cognitive limitations, says plaintiff attorney Kenneth Berkowitz, of Blume, Goldfaden, Berkowitz, Donnelly, Fried & Forte in Chatham.
The suit, lodged by her mother, Theresa Jones, alleged that the gate did not stop when it encountered an obstruction and that security personnel should have seen the child on surveillance footage and intervened.
Named defendants were the building owner, 440 Elizabeth Avenue; manager Marzulli Realty; Christy Overhead Door, which maintained the gate and had installed a new motor; and Motivated Security Services.
Superior Court Judge Dennis Carey approved the settlement, by which Marzulli and 440 Elizabeth Avenue jointly pay $5.5 million, Christy $2 million and Motivated Security $3 million.
Stephen Hopkins, of Braff, Harris & Sukoneck in Livingston, for Marzulli and 440 Elizabeth, confirms his clients' contribution. Brian Steller of Connell Foley in Roseland, for Motivated Security, declines comment. Joseph Kelley of Zirulnik, Sherlock and DeMille in East Hanover, for Christy, did not return a call.
By Charles Toutant
$1.9M in Methadone-Overdose Suit
Estate of Anton v. Brown: The family of a 37-year-old Tinton Falls man who died from a methadone overdose accepted $1.9 million on May 21.
The estate's lawyer, Paul Caliendo of Gill & Chamas in Woodbridge, says James Anton went to a doctor on Feb. 7, 2007, for help with his painkiller addiction and was prescribed 60 milligrams of methadone, twice daily for 10 days, then 10 days of 30 mg twice daily.
Federal rules set the maximum methadone program dose at 40 mg a day. When Anton filled the prescription, the pharmacist called the doctor because there was no 60-mg size. Anton was given the 40-mg size with instructions to take one and a half, but there was no discussion about reducing the 120-mg daily dose, says Caliendo.
After the first dose on day two, Anton felt nauseous and called the doctor. He didn't hear back so he called the pharmacist and was told not to take more until he spoke with the doctor but if he did, to halve the dose, which he did, Caliendo says. He was found dead the next day from the combined effect of methadone, Prozac and Lexapro.
Caliendo says that when the doctor prescribed methadone, he also switched Anton from Prozac to Lexapro, even though Lexapro and methadone can cause problems when taken together.
The Monmouth County suit settled through mediation with retired Judge Bette Uhrmacher. Court records identify the defendants as internist Christopher Brown, who paid $1 million, and pharmacist Leonard Marcus, of Campbell's Pharmacy in Neptune, who paid $900,000, half of it from Campbell's policy.
Bruce Helies, of Wolff Helies Duggan Spaeth & Lucas in Manasquan, for Campbell's, confirms the settlement. Not returning calls were Russell Malta of McGreevy & Malta in Eatontown, for Brown; and Herbert Kruttschnitt III of Charles Hopkins' firm in Red Bank, for Marcus.
By Mary Pat Gallagher
$1.18M for Auto-Accident Injuries
Zamudio-Cadena v. McEntee: A motorist accepted $1.188 million to settle his Middlesex County suit claiming brain injury suffered in a multiple- vehicle accident.
Jhonathan Zamudio-Cadena was driving on Route 1 in Edison on Aug. 3, 2010, when a vehicle two cars back hit the car behind him, which rear-ended his, says his lawyer, Raymond Eisdorfer of Eisdorfer, Eisdorfer & Eisdorfer in Elizabeth.
He claimed he suffered traumatic brain injury, a herniated disc and a bulging disc and still experiences anxiety, headaches and cognitive issues.
The parties settled on April 4, after mediation with retired Middlesex County Superior Court Judge Mark Epstein, now of counsel with Hoagland, Longo, Moran, Dunst & Doukas in New Brunswick.
The driver in the third car, Phillip McEntee of Morris Plains, through Prudential Ins. Co., agreed to pay $625,000 plus $1,000 a month for life a sum expected to reach $1.188 million, Eisdorfer says. McEntee's counsel, Michael Leegan of Goldberg Segalla in Princeton, did not return a call.
By David Gialanella
$600,000 for Auto-Accident Injuries
Valentin v. Route 46 Chrysler Jeep Dodge: A Newark man accepted $600,000 for back injuries allegedly suffered in a road mishap caused by a tire flying off his car.
Walter Valentin had his Chrysler Sebring tires rotated at Route 46 Chrysler Jeep Dodge in Little Falls on Jan. 13, 2010, and drove onto Route 46, when his left rear tire came off, says his attorney, Steven Loewenthal, of Succasunna's Nusbaum, Stein, Goldstein, Bronstein & Kron. While wrestling the car to the roadside he suffered allegedly two lumbar disc injuries that required two fusions.
Valentin claimed the dealer was negligent in not securing the tire.
The parties settled the Essex County suit on April 10.
The dealer's carrier, Merchants Mutual Ins. Co., will pay $575,000. Valentin's carrier, GEICO, paid $25,000 in personal-injury-protection benefits.
Merchants Mutual retained Donald Okner of Fairfield's Dwyer Connell & Lisbona, who declines to comment.
By Michael Booth