verdicts and settlements
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Date of Verdict:

July 22.

Court and Case No.:

C.P. Philadelphia No. 002598.

Judge:

Angelo Foglietta.

Type of Action:

Motor vehicle.

Injuries:

Fractures, brain injury, sprains, strains.

Plaintiffs Counsel:

Jonathan Ostroff, William Coppol, Louis Ricciardi, Richard Godshall and Ryan Jablonski, Ostroff Injury Law, Plymouth Meeting; Raymond D. McElfish, McElfish Law Firm, West Hollywood, California.

Defense Counsel:

Paul Troy and Justin Bayer, Kane, Pugh Knoell, Troy & Kramer, Norristown, for Greyhound Lines and Sabrina Anderson; Louis Hockman, Mintzer, Sarowitz, Zeris, Ledva & Meyers, Philadelphia, for Akos Gubica and C.A.V. Enterprises.

Plaintiffs Experts:

Charles Czeisler, sleep, Sherborn, Massachusetts; Mark Edwards, visibility, St. Augustine, Florida; John J. Smith, accident reconstruction, Parker, Colorado; Dr. Samir Mehta, orthopedic trauma; Philadelphia.

Defense Experts:

Robert C. Sugarman, visibility, Buffalo, New York; Dr. Natasha Mirza, ear, nose and throat, Philadelphia; Dr. Martin Moore-Ede, sleep, Stoneham, Massachusetts; George H. Meinschein, engineering, Freehold, New Jersey.

Comment:

Four people injured in a bus accident that had dozens of victims were awarded $5.05 million by a Philadelphia jury, including $2 million in punitive damages, following a nearly seven-week trial.

On Oct. 9, 2013, a Greyhound bus carrying 46 passengers on an overnight route from New York to Cleveland collided with the back of a tractor-trailer owned by C.A.V. Enterprise LLC on Interstate 80 in Union County, according to the parties’ pretrial memoranda. The bus was driven by defendant Sabrina Anderson and the tractor-trailer was driven by Akos Gubica, the owner and sole member of C.A.V.

The plaintiffs’ memo said Anderson had not slept enough before leaving for the drive and was driving recklessly. They alleged that Greyhound Lines Inc., her employer, permitted and encouraged her to drive while tired and speeding by establishing an overnight route with insufficient breaks, knowing that its drivers would be pressed for time and unwilling to stop when fatigued. The company’s recklessness put the passengers at risk, the memo said. The plaintiffs also alleged there was sufficient evidence to show Anderson consciously disregarded her fatigue.

According to the plaintiffs’ memo, Faithlee Brown, 28, suffered shoulder and spine injuries and underwent physical therapy and chiropractic treatment. She had $28,110 in unpaid medical bills.

Elora Lencoski, 20, was airlifted from the scene and suffered tibia and foot fractures, as well as spine and ligament injuries, facial fractures and a brain injury. She underwent several surgeries and continues to complain of neck, foot and knee pain, as well as memory loss. The plaintiffs’ memo estimated her economic damages at nearly $6 million, including $73,870 in outstanding medical bills.

Plaintiff Brandon Osborn, 35, had orthopedic injuries and injuries to his mouth and teeth, as well as neurocognitive and psychological injuries, the memo said. He may need an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion, which would cost more than $150,000, the memo said.

Tatiana Liakh, 34, had injuries to her shoulder, lumbar spine and cervical spine and incurred more than $8,000 in outstanding medical bills, the memo said.

In its pretrial memo, Greyhound said a report produced by the Pennsylvania State Police after the accident indicated Gubica was driving 16 mph at the time of the accident, 49 mph below the speed limit, and did not have its hazard lights activated. The switch on the trailer that would activate the lights was not functional, the memo said.

Greyhound and Anderson denied the allegations of recklessness and negligence, noting that Anderson’s paperwork was in order and her vehicle was working, unlike Gubica and his trailer. The memo said Anderson did not contribute to the accident in any fashion, per the police report.

Gubica and C.A.V. said in their pretrial memo that Greyhound relied on an “unsound” accident investigation, noting that upon examination the accident reconstructionist admitted under oath that he used the wrong variable in his calculations. The memo said Gubica was driving around 45 mph at the time of the accident, and there was no legitimate explanation for why Anderson drove her bus into the rear of his vehicle. The memo said “virtually every person” who was awake on the bus said that Anderson’s operation was erratic.

Gubica and C.A.V. said the evidence was clear that Anderson was tired, should have slowed down, could have avoided the accident and drove her bus directly into the back of another vehicle without reason.

Greyhound said it had primary insurance coverage in the amount of $5 million, and additional excess insurance. C.A.V. said it had $750,000 in statutory conformed coverage. There were no settlement offers.

After six hours of deliberation, the 12-member jury in Judge Angelo Foglietta’s courtroom found all defendants were negligent, but only Greyhound and Anderson’s negligence was a cause of the accident. The jury apportioned 55 percent of the verdict to Anderson and 45 percent to Greyhound.

Brown was awarded $125,000 in damages; Lencoski received $2.5 million; Liakh received $75,000; and Osborn received $350,000. The verdict also included $500,000 in punitive damages against Greyhound and Anderson for each of the four victims.

Other victims of the accident have filed cases in Ohio, New York and Dallas. Plaintiffs counsel William Coppol said there are 12 plaintiffs left in Philadelphia whose cases will be tried in three separate four-plaintiff trials before Foglietta. Coppol said he and his clients were pleased with the result.

Defense counsel Justin Bayer, for Greyhound and Anderson, said Greyhound respectfully disagreed with the jury’s decision, particularly regarding punitive damages, and intends to appeal.

“This crash was a tragedy for everyone involved, but it was an accident,” Bayer said.

Louis Hockman, representing C.A.V. and Gubica, did not return a call for comment.

— Ben Seal, of the Law Weekly •

Date of Verdict:

July 22.

Court and Case No.:

C.P. Philadelphia No. 002598.

Judge:

Angelo Foglietta.

Type of Action:

Motor vehicle.

Injuries:

Fractures, brain injury, sprains, strains.

Plaintiffs Counsel:

Jonathan Ostroff, William Coppol, Louis Ricciardi, Richard Godshall and Ryan Jablonski, Ostroff Injury Law, Plymouth Meeting; Raymond D. McElfish, McElfish Law Firm, West Hollywood, California.

Defense Counsel:

Paul Troy and Justin Bayer, Kane, Pugh Knoell, Troy & Kramer, Norristown, for Greyhound Lines and Sabrina Anderson; Louis Hockman, Mintzer, Sarowitz, Zeris, Ledva & Meyers , Philadelphia, for Akos Gubica and C.A.V. Enterprises.

Plaintiffs Experts:

Charles Czeisler, sleep, Sherborn, Massachusetts ; Mark Edwards, visibility, St. Augustine, Florida; John J. Smith, accident reconstruction, Parker, Colorado; Dr. Samir Mehta, orthopedic trauma; Philadelphia.

Defense Experts:

Robert C. Sugarman, visibility, Buffalo, New York ; Dr. Natasha Mirza, ear, nose and throat, Philadelphia; Dr. Martin Moore-Ede, sleep, Stoneham, Massachusetts ; George H. Meinschein, engineering, Freehold, New Jersey.

Comment:

Four people injured in a bus accident that had dozens of victims were awarded $5.05 million by a Philadelphia jury, including $2 million in punitive damages, following a nearly seven-week trial.

On Oct. 9, 2013, a Greyhound bus carrying 46 passengers on an overnight route from New York to Cleveland collided with the back of a tractor-trailer owned by C.A.V. Enterprise LLC on Interstate 80 in Union County, according to the parties’ pretrial memoranda. The bus was driven by defendant Sabrina Anderson and the tractor-trailer was driven by Akos Gubica, the owner and sole member of C.A.V.

The plaintiffs’ memo said Anderson had not slept enough before leaving for the drive and was driving recklessly. They alleged that Greyhound Lines Inc., her employer, permitted and encouraged her to drive while tired and speeding by establishing an overnight route with insufficient breaks, knowing that its drivers would be pressed for time and unwilling to stop when fatigued. The company’s recklessness put the passengers at risk, the memo said. The plaintiffs also alleged there was sufficient evidence to show Anderson consciously disregarded her fatigue.

According to the plaintiffs’ memo, Faithlee Brown, 28, suffered shoulder and spine injuries and underwent physical therapy and chiropractic treatment. She had $28,110 in unpaid medical bills.

Elora Lencoski, 20, was airlifted from the scene and suffered tibia and foot fractures, as well as spine and ligament injuries, facial fractures and a brain injury. She underwent several surgeries and continues to complain of neck, foot and knee pain, as well as memory loss. The plaintiffs’ memo estimated her economic damages at nearly $6 million, including $73,870 in outstanding medical bills.

Plaintiff Brandon Osborn, 35, had orthopedic injuries and injuries to his mouth and teeth, as well as neurocognitive and psychological injuries, the memo said. He may need an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion, which would cost more than $150,000, the memo said.

Tatiana Liakh, 34, had injuries to her shoulder, lumbar spine and cervical spine and incurred more than $8,000 in outstanding medical bills, the memo said.

In its pretrial memo, Greyhound said a report produced by the Pennsylvania State Police after the accident indicated Gubica was driving 16 mph at the time of the accident, 49 mph below the speed limit, and did not have its hazard lights activated. The switch on the trailer that would activate the lights was not functional, the memo said.

Greyhound and Anderson denied the allegations of recklessness and negligence, noting that Anderson’s paperwork was in order and her vehicle was working, unlike Gubica and his trailer. The memo said Anderson did not contribute to the accident in any fashion, per the police report.

Gubica and C.A.V. said in their pretrial memo that Greyhound relied on an “unsound” accident investigation, noting that upon examination the accident reconstructionist admitted under oath that he used the wrong variable in his calculations. The memo said Gubica was driving around 45 mph at the time of the accident, and there was no legitimate explanation for why Anderson drove her bus into the rear of his vehicle. The memo said “virtually every person” who was awake on the bus said that Anderson’s operation was erratic.

Gubica and C.A.V. said the evidence was clear that Anderson was tired, should have slowed down, could have avoided the accident and drove her bus directly into the back of another vehicle without reason.

Greyhound said it had primary insurance coverage in the amount of $5 million, and additional excess insurance. C.A.V. said it had $750,000 in statutory conformed coverage. There were no settlement offers.

After six hours of deliberation, the 12-member jury in Judge Angelo Foglietta’s courtroom found all defendants were negligent, but only Greyhound and Anderson’s negligence was a cause of the accident. The jury apportioned 55 percent of the verdict to Anderson and 45 percent to Greyhound.

Brown was awarded $125,000 in damages; Lencoski received $2.5 million; Liakh received $75,000; and Osborn received $350,000. The verdict also included $500,000 in punitive damages against Greyhound and Anderson for each of the four victims.

Other victims of the accident have filed cases in Ohio, New York and Dallas. Plaintiffs counsel William Coppol said there are 12 plaintiffs left in Philadelphia whose cases will be tried in three separate four-plaintiff trials before Foglietta. Coppol said he and his clients were pleased with the result.

Defense counsel Justin Bayer, for Greyhound and Anderson, said Greyhound respectfully disagreed with the jury’s decision, particularly regarding punitive damages, and intends to appeal.

“This crash was a tragedy for everyone involved, but it was an accident,” Bayer said.

Louis Hockman, representing C.A.V. and Gubica, did not return a call for comment.

— Ben Seal, of the Law Weekly •