A Hudson County jury on May 7 awarded $2.14 million, most of it in punitive damages, to a hospital blood-bank technician fired for complaining about staffing issues, Doculan v. Bayonne Medical Center.
After Ceferino Doculan Jr. protested that his supervisor at Bayonne Medical Center lacked the statutory credentials and that the blood bank was sometimes understaffed, he was written up for infractions he didn't commit and eventually was let go, he claimed.
The jury found liability under the Conscientious Employee Protection Act and awarded $2 million in punitive damages, along with $80,000 for lost wages and $60,000 for infliction of emotional distress, says plaintiff attorney Kevin Costello of Costello & Mains in Mount Laurel.
The hospital's lawyer, Scott Wich of Clifton, Budd & DeMaria in New York, did not return a call.
Superior Court Judge Lawrence Maron presided at trial.
By Charles Toutant
$650,000 for Sexual Abuse
Greg Gianforcaro (Image: Robert Sciarrino/The Star-Ledger)
Doe v. Archdiocese of Newark: The Archdiocese of Newark has paid five men a total of $650,000 to settle claims of sexual assault by a priest in Jersey City in the 1970s and 1980s.
Rev. Carmen Sita, then of St. Aloysius Church, pleaded guilty in 1982 to sexually assaulting another youth and was sentenced to five months' probation. He later changed his name to Gerald Howard and was transferred to the Diocese of Jefferson City, Mo. He is awaiting trial on charges he sexually assaulted three youths there.
The name change and transfer came to the attention of five former parishioners of St. Aloysius, now in their 40s, who alleged Sita assaulted them as teenagers. Two sued the archdiocese, alleging negligent supervision, and the other three men participated in settlement negotiations without joining the suit, says Phillipsburg solo Gregory Gianforcaro, who represents all five.
The settlement, reached in February, was paid on May 6, he says.
The archdiocese's lawyer, Charles Carella of Roseland's Carella, Byrne, Cecchi, Olstein, Brody &Agnello, and spokesman Jim Goodness decline to comment.
By Michael Booth
John Gregory Jr.
$650,000 for Accident Injuries
Estate of Teixeira v. DJM Transport: The estateof a truck driver who allegedly suffered brain injuries in an accident, though he died of other causes, settled its wrongful death suit in Middlesex County for $650,000.
On Sept. 4, 2008, Antonio Teixeira, then 58, was hauling construction debris with an 18-wheeler on Route 17 in Hancock, N.Y., when he lost control on a curve and struck a guardrail. His truck turned onto its side.
Teixeira claimed that DJM Transport of Kearny assumed responsibility for maintenance of the truck when it contracted with Teixeira's employer, GLR Trucking of Kearny, but failed to maintain the brakes, axles and tires.
DJM disputed proximate causation and contended that Teixeira was at least partly responsible for maintenance, says estate lawyer John Gregory Jr. of Keefe Bartels in Red Bank.
Teixeira suffered a closed-head injury, leading to a brain bleed, and allegedly could not work after the accident. He died two years later from unrelated causes, Gregory says.
The suit was filed in New Jersey because all parties resided in the state. It settled on March 27 in mediation with retired Judge Jack Lintner, now of Norris, McLaughlin & Marcus in Bridgewater.
DJM's counsel, Joseph Ricchezza of Salmon, Ricchezza, Singer & Turchi in Sewell, did not return a call.
By David Gialanella
No Cause in Traffic Pileup
Jimenez v. Denmead: A Union County jury on March 19 no-caused a Whippany woman who was rear-ended in a chain collision, though she is recovering $112,500 through pretrial agreements with three of the four defendants.
Laura Jimenez, then 34, was at the front of the five-car collision that occurred on Oct. 11, 2006, as she exited Route 80 for Route 287. She sued the four drivers who crashed in sequence behind her: Edward Denmead of Sparta, Nicholas Podell of Morristown, Fabio Mosquera of Elizabeth and Jennifer Huff-Mendez of New Vernon.
At trial, with Superior Court Judge Lisa Chrystal presiding, the jury allocated fault to Denmead, 45 percent; Podell, 25 percent; Mosquera, 20 percent; and Huff-Mendez, 10 percent. But it also found Jimenez failed to prove a proximately caused permanent injury.
Jimenez claimed the crash caused a disc herniation with an annular tear at L5-S1 and nerve root irritation, for which she had chiropractic treatment, injections, nerve root ablations, endoscopic discectomies and a lumbar fusion. The defense argued her back problems were degenerative.
Denmead's attorney, Richard Tango of McDermott & McGee in Millburn, says Jimenez made a $950,000 pretrial offer of judgment and during trial proposed a $1.7 million-to-$300,000 high-low agreement. Both were rejected, and Jimenez turned down Denmead's $350,000 offer, he says.
Mosquera and Huff-Mendez had settled last year for a combined $37,500, and Podell agreed to a $100,000-$75,000 high-low deal before trial. As a result, Podell, represented by Scott Krupa of Morristown's Viscomi & Lyons, will pay $75,000.
Krupa did not return a call, nor did Craig Combs of Giblin & Combs in Morristown, for Jimenez; John Gulyas of Daly Lamastra & Cunningham in Whitehouse Station, for Mosquera; and Patrick Robinson of Robinson Burns in Bridgewater, for Huff-Mendez.
By Mary Pat Gallagher