PREMISES LIABILITY

$225,000 Settlement in Slip and Fall

Olimpio v. Port Authority of New York & New Jersey; Essex County Superior Court; Judge Dennis Carey; Sept. 23.

Facts & Allegations: On Feb. 7, 2011, limousine driver John Olimpio allegedly fell after slipping on ice on a path at the short-term parking area leading to Terminal A at Newark Liberty International Airport.

Olimpio was treated for a displaced fracture of the right ilium bone extending from the iliac crest into the acetabulum, with additional right-side acetabular fractures and hematoma. He underwent open reduction internal fixation and physical therapy.

He claimed he has suffered from right-hip synovitis with loss of range of motion, power and function. Olimpio was out of work for seven months; he claimed he experiences daily pain and discomfort and he was determined to be 30 percent disabled by a workers’ compensation court.

He sued the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey (as apparent ownership entity for Newark Liberty); Aero Snow Removal Corp., the company believed responsible for snow-and-ice removal; and Golden Touch Transportation, an airport-employee busing service initially believed to also possibly be responsible for snow-and-ice removal.

Aero Snow Removal and Golden Touch were dismissed.

Olimpio’s counsel argued that the Port Authority had failed to keep the area clear of snow and ice and that melted snow and ice had refroze.

The defense contended there had been no recent snowfall and denied there was ice where Olimpio allegedly fell or melting that would have refroze. The defense’s expert orthopedic surgeon noted Olimpio returned to work full time seven months after the accident.

The case was settled after nonbinding arbitration, with the Port Authority agreeing to pay Olimpio $225,000.

Plaintiff Attorney:Kenneth Thomas, Lanza & Lanza, Flemington.

Defense Attorneys: Ilea Kozak, Jonathan Meinen, Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, New York, N.Y. (for Newark Liberty International Airport, Port Authority of New York & New Jersey); Robert Moran Jr., McBreen & Kopko, Montvale (for Aero Snow Removal Corp.); Martin J. Sullivan, Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith, Newark (for Golden Touch Transportation).

Plaintiff Expert: William Poznak, P.E., accident investigation, Oakhurst.

Defense Expert: Lawrence Kraut, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Clifton.

This report is based on information from plaintiff counsel. Defense counsel did not return calls.

PREMISES LIABILITY

$200,000 Verdict Over Glass Shard in Foot

Spilotras v. Bering; Somerset County Superior Court; Judge Thomas Miller; July 19.

Facts & Allegations: Candice Spilotras visited her parents, Nancy and Lance Bering, in Somerset on Oct. 31, 2008. Before and during the visit, her mother was discarding glass dishes into a recycling bin on the deck. One broke and left glass shards on the deck. Spilotras, in stocking feet, went out onto the deck to clear the debris. A half-inch glass shard became embedded in her foot.

Spilotras sued her parents on a theory of premises liability. They denied negligence and argued that if any negligence existed, it was on the part of Spilotras, who, it was argued, should have exercised more care in proceeding onto the deck without shoes.

She developed an infection and numbness. She also began walking on the side of her foot and a large bunion developed, which was removed. She was diagnosed with a plantar-nerve injury, Morton’s neuroma of the right foot and complex regional pain syndrome.

Defense counsel for the Berings disputed the complex regional pain diagnosis and argued that Spilotras’ injuries resolved relatively quickly and were not directly related to the accident.

The jury found the Berings negligent and awarded Spilotras $200,000.

Plaintiff Attorney:Robert Lord, Lord, Kobrin, Alvarez & Fattell, Mountainside.

Defense Attorney: Mario Colitti, Viscomi & Lyons, Morristown (for Lance Bering, Nancy Bering).

Demand: $225,000.

Offer: $55,000.

Trial Details: trial length: 5 days; jury deliberations: 6.5 hour; jury poll: 8-0.

Plaintiff Experts: Steven Nehmer, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Union; Dana Webb, D.P.M., podiatry, Bridgewater.

Defense Expert: Tatyana Marx, M.D., neurology, Morristown.

This report is based on information from plaintiff and defense counsel.

MOTOR VEHICLE

$160,000 Settlement in Crash

Walker v. Krug; Middlesex County Superior Court; July 18.

Facts & Allegations: Louise Walker was the front-seat passenger on Dec. 21, 2010, on Route 28 in Bound Brook, when driver Tabatha Krug tried to go around the vehicle ahead, which had stopped to turn left. Krug’s vehicle collided with a car driven by Emily Wieder, who was traveling in the opposite direction and allegedly tried to turn left in front of the left-turning vehicle in front of her.

Walker was treated for a compound displaced fracture of her left femur. She had open reduction surgery, with the insertion of stabilizing hardware.

Walker sued Wieder and Krug, alleging that Wieder made an improper left turn, and that Krug proceeded around the vehicle in front of them without sufficient regard for other vehicles.

Wieder was operating a rental car. Its $15,000 insurance policy proved to be the primary policy, so rental company EAN Holdings was joined as a defendant in both the Walker and Krug lawsuits.

EAN Holdings settled with Walker for the $15,000 in available coverage. Walker’s action proceeded as against Wieder and Krug. (Krug’s claim against Wieder and EAN Holdings settled for $175,000.)

Walker reached a $160,000 settlement, which included the initial $15,000 paid under the primary insurance policy for EAN Holdings, as well as $45,000 from the $50,000 available under Krug’s auto liability policy, and $100,000 from Wieder’s personal auto liability policy.

Plaintiff Attorney:Robert Lord, Lord, Kobrin, Alvarez & Fattell, Mountainside.

Defense Attorneys:Edward Davis, Law Office of Debra Hart, Morganville (for Tabatha Krug); G. Samuel Hoffman, Styliades & Jackson, Marlton (for Emily Wieder); Sungkyu Lee, Styliades & Jackson, Marlton (EAN Holdings LLC).

This report is based on information from plaintiff counsel. Defense counsel declined to comment.

MOTOR VEHICLE

$100,000 Settlement in Motorcycle Accident

Skurbe v. Manalapan Township; Monmouth County Superior Court; Aug. 14.

Facts & Allegations: On May 20, 2009, Daniel Skurbe allegedly lost control of his motorcycle on Route 9 in Manalapan Township and was thrown from his bike, fracturing his hands, wrists and a hip.

In addition to serious abrasions that left him with permanent scarring, Skurbe suffered a left-wrist distal fracture and a nondisplaced distal radius fracture. He had a closed reduction, with percutaneous pin fixation of the left distal radius fracture. Skurbe also suffered a left-hip femoral fracture, which required open reduction surgery with internal fixation of the left femoral neck.

Skurbe claimed that he continues to suffer considerable hand weakness and complained that he had not been able to return to many of his previous activities because of weakness and pain.

The police report said Skurbe apparently hit road ruts, holes and bumps.

Skurbe sued the township, the state, and Monmouth County Department of Public Works, alleging they failed to properly maintain the roadway and had not properly used tamping equipment to compact backfill to a trench.

Skurbe’s counsel reasoned that, in light of the contentions of a dangerous condition, actual or constructive notice was not required.

The claims against Monmouth County Department of Public Works and Manalapan Township were voluntarily dismissed.

The case proceeded against the state, which denied negligence and argued that it had no notice of the allegedly dangerous condition and that the accident was likely caused by Skurbe’s negligence.

The defense argued that Skurbe had made a remarkably good recovery.

The case settled for $100,000.

Plaintiff Attorney:Roy Curnow, Spring Lake.

Defense Attorneys:Stephen Foley Jr., Campbell, Foley, Delano & Adams, Asbury Park (for Manalapan Township); Randall Weaver, New Jersey deputy attorney general, Trenton (for state of New Jersey); none reported for Monmouth County Department of Public Works.

Plaintiff Expert: Martin Riss, D.O., disability evaluation, Brick.

Defense Expert: None reported.

This report is based on information from plaintiff counsel. Defense counsel declined to comment.

The cases that appear here are derived from VerdictSearch New Jersey, an affiliate of the New Jersey Law Journal. For more reports from VerdictSearch, or to request research, go to VerdictSearch.com or call 1-800-832-1900.