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Here are the largest personal injury verdicts reported by the New Jersey Law Journal for the 12 months ending Aug. 26, 2002, ranked in order of their value as of date of verdict or settlement. They do not include arbitration awards or unilateral decisions by governmental entities to compensate injured parties, nor do they include uncollectible judgments. Awards for multiple parties are ranked by their lump sum values. $40.6M for Deadly Assault in Nursing Home Estate of Beatrice Baskin v. The Nurse Connection Inc.: On Feb. 19, an Ocean County jury ordered a home nursing provider to pay $40.6 million in damages in the case of a woman stabbed to death by one of its employees. Beatrice Baskin, 74, was murdered on Sept. 17, 1993, in her Brick Township home by Scott Baker, an employee of The Nurse Connection who had been assigned to provide home health care to Beatrice’s husband, David Baskin. Beatrice had fired him eight days before the stabbing. Baker also took $14,000 from the home. In July 1997, an Ocean County jury convicted Baker, who maintained his innocence, of murder. He was sentenced to 44 years in prison. One of the attorneys for Baskin’s estate, Lane Ferdinand, said Baker acknowledged before he was hired that he had a prior conviction for a third-degree burglary but company officials did not inquire further. If they had, they would have learned that authorities had suggested that Baker undergo mental health counseling to control his anger, said Ferdinand, a Springfield solo practitioner, whose co-counsel was S. Robert Princiotto, an associate at Elmwood Park’s Marcus & Levy. At the time, the law did not require home health-care providers to conduct background checks of prospective employees. It was Baskin’s murder that prompted the Legislature two years ago to enact legislation requiring such investigations. The jury reached its verdict after three hours of deliberations and a three-week trial presided over by Superior Court Judge Marlene Lynch Ford. The jury awarded $40 million for pain and suffering to Baskin’s two children, Steven Gurtin of Pebble Beach, Calif., and Andrea Carter, of Pacific Grove, Calif., and $600,000 to the estate of David Baskin, who had died in a nursing home. The Nurse Connection’s insurance carrier, Princeton Insurance Co., retained Richard Grossman, a partner at Brick’s Grossman, Kruttschnitt, Heavey & Jacob, who said he would file a motion with Ford to set aside the verdict. The plaintiff, he said, failed to adequately prove that The Nurse Connection knew, or should have known, of the extent of Baker’s criminal background or his mental problems. “Other than the fact that he was convicted of third-degree burglary, there was nothing in his background that indicated he was dangerous,” said Grossman, adding that he believes the $40-million award should be thrown out as excessive. $16M for Injuries Caused by Exploding Air Tank Grovatt v. Midwest Products Inc.: A Burlington County judge approved a $16-million settlement on June 11 in a product liability suit by a farmer who claimed that an exploding compressed-air tank left him a quadriplegic. Half of the money will be placed in a structured settlement that will yield about $28 million over plaintiff Roy Grovatt’s lifetime, assuming he lives to age 75, according to his attorney. The accident occurred on May 6, 1997, while Grovatt was on his family farm in Tabernacle filling a portable air tank for use in inflating tractor tires. The steel tank, designed and made by Midwest Products of Strafford, Mo., exploded and destroyed 20 percent of Grovatt’s skull, said his attorney, John Baldante, a partner at Levy, Angstreich, Finney, Baldante, Rubenstein & Coren in Cherry Hill. Grovatt, 45 at the time of the settlement, was left a quadriplegic, blind in his left eye and severely disfigured. Grovatt’s family sued Midwest Products and the Burlington County Farm Fair Association, which organized the event where Grovatt bought the air tank from a vendor. The suit claimed that because the fair had an agricultural theme, inclusion of the vendor constituted an implied endorsement of the product as safe and suitable for farm use. The suit claimed that moisture from cooled air in the tank caused corrosion and the resulting rupture. The suit said Midwest Products failed to comply with design and manufacturing aspects of the code of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Midwest used a substandard grade of steel, failed to equip its tanks with a valve to drain accumulated water and used welds that were of poor quality and exposed the tank’s most vulnerable seam to corrosive stress, the suit alleged. Grovatt requires 24-hour care, provided by family members and outside help, at a cost of $15,000 a month, Baldante said. The parties met on May 10 with three mediators: C. Judson Hamlin, of counsel with Purcell, Ries, Shannon, Mulcahy & O’Neill in Bedminster; Lauren Handler, a partner at Porzio, Bromberg & Newman in Morristown; and Richard Levinson of Levinson Axelrod in Edison. The parties settled a few days after the mediation. The Farm Fair Association will pay an “insignificant” portion of the $16 million and the remainder will come from Midwest Products, said Baldante. The settlement calls for the defendants’ contributions to remain confidential, he said. Judge Ronald Bookbinder approved the settlement subject to removal of a U.S. Bankruptcy Court stay imposed after Huntco Inc., Midwest Products’ parent, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February. Midwest Products was represented by Gerard Hanson, a partner with Hill Wallack in Princeton. The Burlington County Farm Fair Association was represented by John Donovan, a partner at Rawle & Henderson in Philadelphia. Hanson and Donovan confirm the settlement but decline to comment. $15M for Scars Resulting From Automobile Accident Kress v. Dominick Pucillo Disposal Inc.: A Union County jury awarded $15 million on Dec. 3 to a Scotch Plains woman who was disfigured when her car hit the rear of a garbage truck. Sharon Kress, an AT&T account representative, was driving east on Route 22 in Hillside at 5:30 a.m. on Nov. 26, 1997, when her car hit the trash truck owned by Dominick Pucillo Disposal Inc. of Hillside. A witness testified that Kress was traveling about 45mph, that it was past nightfall and that the truck had no lights to warn drivers it was stopping. The plaintiff’s lawyer, John Breslin, said that Kress suffered multiple facial fractures and fractures to her right hand, kneecap and femur. A 14-inch rod was implanted in her right femur and a glass tube was inserted in her nose to drain tears from her right eye because of ocular damage. Her speech is slow and slurred since the accident and her face is seriously disfigured, said Breslin, of Hackensack’s Breslin, Auty and Preziosi. Kress, 35 at the time of the verdict, got several promotions in the years before the accident but has not been promoted since then, and she is unable to participate in horseback riding, jogging and in-line skating as she did before the accident, adds Breslin. The truck driver, Joseph Coleman, then 65, of East Orange, claimed that his vehicle had its lights on when the crash occurred, and an investigation by Hillside police was inconclusive, said Breslin. The suit named Pucillo Disposal, later acquired by Waste Management Corp. of Houston, Coleman and the Township of Hillside, which had contracted with the company. The township was dismissed, but trial against the company and Coleman proceeded before Judge Lawrence Weiss on Nov. 27. The jury found the defendants jointly liable and assessed $15 million in damages for pain and suffering and loss of quality of life. Weiss’ chambers confirmed the verdict. The defendants’ lawyer, John Bashwiner of Bashwiner & Woods in Cedar Grove, did not return calls seeking comment. The haulers’ insurers were Providence Washington Insurance of Providence, R.I., and Swiss Re of Armonk, N.Y. $15.2M for Injuries in Defective Steering Case Hernandez v. Ford Motor Co: A Middlesex County jury awarded $15.2 million on Jan. 18 to a police officer who claimed a defective steering mechanism in his 1995 Ford Crown Victoria cruiser caused a crash that injured him badly. The car driven by plaintiff Hansylin Hernandez of the Rutgers University Police Department hit a tree at high speed while he was responding to a distress call in Piscataway on Oct. 28, 1995. His lawyers, Steven Cahn and Harold Parra, formerly of Edison’s Eichen, Levinson, Cahn & Parra (now Eichen Levinson), and presently partners at Cahn & Parra of Edison, presented evidence during the two-week trial that the accident was caused by a defective pitman arm, an apparatus that coordinates the steering motion and the front wheels. The pitman arm prompted a Ford recall of Crown Victorias in 1996, a year after the accident, but because the vehicle was destroyed before the litigation, there was no direct evidence that a defect in Hernandez’s car existed. So the plaintiff’s lawyers used computer reconstruction of the accident to convince the jury that a worn pitman arm caused the crash. Ford’s counsel, James Dobis of Livingston’s Dobis & Reilly, sought to prove that Hernandez caused the accident by driving too fast on a curve, perhaps as fast as 70 miles per hour. The defense evidence also suggested that wear on the pitman arm would not have caused the dramatic steering breakdown alleged. The testimony also showed that while Hernandez suffered horrific injuries with lifelong implications, he has recovered so well that he is now a New Jersey state police officer. Damage to his brain put him in a coma for three weeks. Doctors testified that he could not walk for six months or work for a year and underwent surgeries for a broken jaw, broken teeth and ribs, a collapsed lung, shattered left femur and tibia, damage to his hip and tendon cuts in his hand. Hernandez, 32 years old at the time of the verdict, is likely to need further surgeries and will probably develop arthritic conditions, the doctors testified. Dobis declines to comment except to say he will ask Superior Court Judge Alan Rockoff for a new trial. Cahn said the plaintiff sought a settlement of about $750,000 early in the case but the defense’s only offer was $10,000 during the trial. He said the workers’ compensation lien will reduce the award to $15 million, but that prejudgment interest will add about $3.3 million to the recovery. Cahn said the plaintiff’s technology consultant, Mark Calzaretta of Woodbridge’s Esquire Deposition Services, provided computer-generated displays – including an analysis of Ford’s accident-reconstruction video – that helped win the case for Hernandez. $14.4M Verdict in Crashworthiness Case Ziemer v. Nissan North America: A Morris County Superior Court jury on July 26 awarded a Chester man and his family $14.4 million for permanent and debilitating injuries he suffered in a 1997 automobile accident. After three hours of deliberations, the jury found that Nissan North America was negligent in manufacturing William Ziemer’s 1995 Maxima GXE, the front of which collapsed in a head-on collision. The accident occurred on Route 206 near Chester on Oct. 31, 1997, when another motorist, who had passed out from medical complications, crossed the center line and struck Ziemer’s car head on, thrusting elements of the engine and outer hull into the front passenger compartment. At trial, Ziemer’s lawyer, Cynthia Walters, a partner at Short Hills’ Budd Larner Rosenbaum Greenberg & Sade, argued that Nissan was negligent because it did not, until 1996, fit Maximas sold in the United States with structural reinforcements that were available on its European models. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the 1995 and 1996 models of four-door midsize Nissan Maxima were rated among the worst vehicles for crashworthiness. As a result of the accident, Ziemer, 45 at the time of the verdict, is a paraplegic, has the mental capacity of a child and is unable to control his bodily functions, said Walters. The jury awarded Ziemer $3.5 million for pain and suffering, emotional distress and loss of enjoyment of life; $1.2 million for past and future lost earnings; and $4.2 million for future care and medical costs, said his attorney. The panel also awarded $2.5 million to Ziemer’s wife, Karen, and $1 million each to their three sons, Brian, 17, Derek, 14, and Colin, 11. Nissan’s lawyers, Gerard Cedrone and William Ricci, partners at the Mount Laurel office of Lavin, Coleman, O’Neill, Ricci, Finarelli & Gray, referred telephone inquiries to Scott Vazin, director of communications for Nissan North America. Vazin said Nissan was sympathetic toward Ziemer and his family but planned to ask for a new trial. Zeimer’s injuries, Vazin said, were the result of a high-speed collision and were not caused by design defects in the car. “We stand by our safety record,” said Vazin. “With regard to the engineering and design of the Maxima, it’s excellent.” Judge Stephen Smith Jr. presided over the three-week trial. $11M Settlement for Motorist Who Lost Both Legs Aref v. Borden: A California software developer agreed on March 6 to pay $11 million to a Monmouth County motorist who lost both legs in an accident with a company employee. On March 4, 1998, a Chevrolet Blazer driven by Oracle employee Greg Borden, of Ridley Park, Pa., collided with Walid Aref’s car, that had broken down in the left lane of Quakerbridge Road in West Windsor. It was night and the car’s tail lights and emergency flashers were on. The collision pushed the car and Aref, who was standing behind it, 20 feet, said one of his lawyers, Barry Epstein, a partner at Sills Cummis Radin Tischman Epstein & Gross in Newark. Borden, an employee of Oracle Corp. in Redwood City, Calif., had just left a state government office, where he was performing a software installation, said Epstein’s co-counsel, Sills Cummis partner James Toll. Aref’s left leg was cut off at the knee by the impact. His right leg was crushed, requiring amputation above the knee. He also suffered a broken neck and back injuries, said Epstein. Aref, 40 at the time of the settlement, suffers from back and neck pain, depression and phantom pain. A Ph.D. in computer science who owned a consulting company before the accident, he has since taken a lower-paying but less physically demanding job teaching at Purdue University in Indiana. Aref sued Borden and Oracle in Middlesex County. Trial began Sept. 4, 2001. Judge Yolanda Ciccone declared a mistrial after Sept. 11, when closed airports prevented some witnesses from attending and a juror who was a New York City firefighter and hazardous materials handler was called to duty. The second trial began on March 4, and settlement came during jury selection. The settlement, to be paid by Oracle’s insurance company, St. Paul Insurance Cos. of St. Paul, Minn., has a present value of $11 million. A split between cash and a structure will be determined later, said Epstein. Oracle and Borden were represented by James Martin and Eric Kuper, partners at Lynch Martin in New Brunswick. Kuper said his clients agreed to the settlement, which admitted no liability, due to the extent of the injuries. $10.5M for Premises Liability Suit Over Debilitating Fall Nolan v. Fagan: A contractor permanently injured in a fall from a roof won a $10.5-million verdict from a Monmouth County jury on Feb. 15. But he was found 40 percent liable, and the landlord was insured for only $300,000. Michael Nolan of Manahawkin had been employed by landlord Wesley Fagan of Holmdel to do roofing work at a two-story Matawan apartment house in 1998. Nolan fell from the steepest part of the roof, on a side that did not have scaffolding because Fagan did not want any obstruction to his tenants’ parking or walking, according to plaintiffs’ attorneys Raymond Gill and Kevin Parsons of Gill & Chamas in Woodbridge. Nolan broke his neck and needed to have vertebrae surgically fused. He wore a protective halo bolted to his skull for 91 days as part of his rehabilitation. A seven-time marathoner, he is unable to run. His lawyers say the injuries have altered his appearance and gait, partially disabled the use of his right arm, shoulder and hands, and diminished his speech and swallowing. The policy with Fagan’s insurer, Farmers Mutual Fire Assurance Association of New Jersey, covers only $300,000, roughly what the plaintiffs sought in settlement. Parsons said he hopes to recover the remaining money by persuading Fagan to file a bad-faith claim against the carrier for not settling. Fagan’s lawyer, Martin McGowan, an associate at Methfessel & Werbel in Edison, did not return a call for comment. Judge Bette Uhrmacher presided over the trial. $10M for Boy Rendered a Quadriplegic by Peanut Allergy Varghese v. Yerramilli: Doctors’ failure to warn of or treat a child’s allergy to peanuts led to his becoming a quadriplegic, a Middlesex County jury found on Jan. 23, assessing damages of $10 million. Eight-year-old Ray Varghese, of East Brunswick, ate peanut-laced candy at his home on Dec. 25, 1996, sending him into anaphylactic shock. He lingers on in a vegetative state, according to evidence presented by Robert Ross and Jonathan Cohen, associates in Kline & Specter of Philadelphia and Cherry Hill. According to the plaintiff’s evidence, four doctors in the East Brunswick area were at fault because they knew of the allergy, didn’t warn the parents of the severe dangers and failed to prescribe epinephrine for use in case of an attack. The four were pediatrician Ramalak Yerramilli, who had treated the child for years; Alan Oakie, an allergist; and pediatricians Subramanyam Ganti and Vijaya Radhakrishna, who saw the child twice and made the referral to Oakie. Ganti and Radhakrishna won no-causes. The jury found Oakie, who did not answer the complaint and was not defended at trial, 20 percent liable. Yerramilli was found 80 percent liable, but he settled before trial. Ross declined to disclose the terms of the pretrial settlement but said he will ask Middlesex County Superior Court Judge Douglas Hague to mold the verdict to make Oakie 100 percent liable. He also said he would ask the judge to overturn the verdict exonerating the other two doctors. Their lawyers, Thomas Leyhane of Leyhane & Cunningham in Ewing and Debra Urbanowicz-Pandos of Dur�n & Pandos, suggested that they did the right thing by referring the child to an allergist. The evidence showed, as well, that they saw the child only twice in 1996 and that Yerramilli returned as the primary pediatrician before the attack. Steven Blader of Lawrenceville’s Szaferman, Lakind, Blumstein, Blader, Lehmann & Goldshore, represented the child’s parents, whom the doctors named as cross-claim defendants. Blader said the trial was memorable because it began on Sept. 11. Some of the lawyers were called on to give their opening statements after news of the terrorist attacks had raced through the courthouse. The trial resumed on Jan. 3 with a new jury. $7.1M Settlement of Suit Over Fatal Crash on Turnpike Schreiner v. Continental Wholesale Florists Inc.: Suits over a fatal crash on the New Jersey Turnpike settled for a total of $7.1 million in state and federal courts in Camden County. Robert Schreiner, a 46-year-old aerospace engineer from Rocky Mount, N.C., was killed on Dec. 31, 1999, near Carneys Point when a 24-foot truck pulled off the shoulder and into the southbound lanes, striking his Nissan minivan in which five family members were passengers. Schreiner was thrown 300 feet from the wreck and died several hours later. His wife, Yvonne, suffered a closed head wound and other injuries. Their four children suffered minor injuries. Plaintiffs’ lawyer Andrew Rossetti said that the truck driver, Samuel J. Moore III, of Baltimore, an employee of Continental Wholesale Florists Inc. of San Antonio, had been on duty for 18 hours at the time of the crash according to his log book, which is a violation of federal law. Rossetti, of Cherry Hill’s Ferrara, Rossetti & DeVoto, handled the survivors’ suit in Superior Court and Frank Allen, a partner with Archer & Greiner in Haddonfield, handled the wrongful death suit in U.S. District Court in Camden on behalf of Schreiner’s estate. The parties settled the state suit during a 10-hour session with mediator Philip Gruccio on Nov. 27, 2001. Schreiner’s widow, 45, will receive $3.5 million. Superior Court Judge Francis Orlando Jr. approved a $1.1-million award to the children, aged 21, 19, 16 and 13, during a friendly hearing on Jan. 4. The same day, the parties settled the wrongful death suit for $2.5 million before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joel Rosen. Continental’s insurance carriers were Old Republic Insurance of Greensburg, Pa., and The Chubb Corp. of Warren. John Miller, a partner with Kenney & Kearney in Cherry Hill, represented Continental and Moore. He confirmed the settlements and said the defendants consider the terms fair. $7M for Paraplegic in Design-Defect Crash Suit Collins v. Mack Truck: A Bergen County jury awarded almost $7 million on Feb. 22 for a design defect that left a man thrown from his truck a paraplegic but also found that failure to use a seatbelt caused 70 percent of the damages. Superior Court Judge Charles Walsh reserved decision and requested briefs on whether to apply the seatbelt finding to reduce Nicholas Collins’ recovery. According to his lawyer, Leonard Kaufmann, Collins was driving a tractor-trailer for his employer, A&P, on June 6, 1996, when he was cut off on the ramp from Route 46 to the George Washington Bridge. The truck rolled over and the passenger side door split open, flinging Collins onto the curb and guardrail. He suffered an injured spinal cord, a fractured pelvis and other injuries, said Kaufmann, a partner with Saddle Brook’s Cohn Lifland Pearlman Herrmann & Knopf. Trial against Mack Trucks Inc. of Allentown started on Feb. 4 and lasted about 11 days. Walsh did not allow evidence about what caused the accident, though Mack blamed negligent driving by Collins. The jury determined, 6-0, that the door had a design defect that enhanced Collins’ injuries. Jurors found Collins’ damages totaled $5.9 million, including $850,000 for past medical expenses, $1.6 million for future medical expenses, $305,217 for past wage claims, $740,000 for future wage claims and $2.5 million for pain and suffering. The wage and medical amounts were stipulated, though Mack disputed the extent of disability. According to Kaufmann, Collins, 50 at the time of the verdict, is capable of walking only for short distances and must use a walker, is incontinent, has continuing back pain and requires ongoing physical and psychological therapy. A surgically installed pump provides medication to alleviate back spasms. The jurors set per quod damages for Collins’ wife, Angela, at $1 million. They then found, 5-1, that Collins was not wearing his seatbelt, that this was negligent and that it increased the severity of his injuries. Had he worn a seatbelt, he would have suffered only $10,000 in damages, the rest being 70 percent attributable to not using a belt. If Walsh decides to apply the jury’s seatbelt findings, Collins will recover only 30 percent of the $5.9 million in “seatbelt” damage, plus 30 percent of the $1 million per quod damages, for a total of $2.095 million, said Kaufmann. Kaufmann, who tried the case with partner Barry Knopf, used as experts mechanical engineer Steven Meyer of Santa Barbara, on design defect and seatbelt use, and biomechanical engineer Anthony Sances of Goleta, Calif., on injury causation and seatbelt usage. The defense experts were engineer William Geiger, an employee of Mack, on design defect; engineer Lawrence McKenna of Algonac, Mich., on seatbelt usage; accident reconstructionist and kinematics expert Dennis Gunther of Columbus, Ohio, on the seatbelt issue; and Dr. Harry Smith of San Antonio, on kinetics and injury causation based on Collins’ movement inside the truck cab. Raritan solo practitioner William Salmond, who represented Mack Trucks, did not return calls for comment. $5.25M for Permanent Injuries in Truck Accident Loffer v. Williams: A Monmouth County judge approved a $5.25-million settlement on Dec. 20 for a Brick Township couple whose car was hit by an asphalt truck, leaving the husband permanently injured. On Aug. 13, 1998, Robin Loffer, with her husband Kenneth as a passenger, was headed east on Route 520 in Holmdel when a truck going downhill on Route 34 � loaded with 84,000 pounds of asphalt � went through a red light. It broadsided their car and pushed it 300 feet. Kenneth Loffer, whose side of the car was hit, was flown by helicopter to Jersey Shore Medical Center where he remained in a coma for 13 days, said his lawyer, John Mennie, a partner with the firm of Schibell & Mennie in Ocean. The Loffers sued truck driver Walter Williams of Holmdel; his employer, Crosco, Inc. of Middletown; the asphalt company that loaded the truck, Stavola Contracting Co. Inc.; and a contractor, Manzo Inc. The defendants filed third-party claims against Robin Loffer, who they said could have avoided the collision if she had been more attentive. Williams claimed that his brakes failed and he sounded his horn halfway down the hill to give warning. Mennie said the state police found no problem with the brakes. He said the truck was traveling too fast and the driver failed to use a “jake brake,” which keeps the truck from changing gears and would have helped him avoid going through the light. Mennie also said the truck was loaded 4,000 pounds above its 80,000-pound capacity, making braking more difficult. The asphalt company blamed driver error by Williams and Robin. Robin admitted she did not hear Williams’ horn because the air conditioning and radio were on and the windows were closed. Superior Court Judge Alexander Lehrer approved the settlement during a friendly hearing. Of the total, $4.75 million will go to Kenneth Loffer, who at age 37 was left with severe cognitive deficits that impair his memory, attention and ability to process information. Mennie said that Loffer, an electrical engineer who held several patents and worked as a civilian employee for the Department of Defense, can now do math at only about an eighth-grade level. His claim for lost future wages was $1 million. His wife, Robin, who was then 33, will receive $500,000. Her lawyer, Bruce Fromer, a partner with Nelson & Fromer in Neptune, said that most of her damages were per quod though she suffered cuts, bruises and other soft-tissue injuries. Mennie said the settlement provides for two trusts to be set up out of Loffer’s share, one to pay household expenses for Kenneth and Robin and the other to provide Kenneth’s lifetime care. Annuities to fund both trusts will pay a minimum of $7.7 million during the next five years and $16 million if Kenneth reaches his normal life expectancy of 40 more years. Most of the settlement, $5.15 million, is to be paid by Crosco, and the remaining $100,000 by Manzo, said Mennie. Crosco and Williams were represented by James Birchmeier, a partner with Tuckahoe’s Powell, Birchmeier & Powell; Stavola Asphalt by Dana Argeris, a partner with Asbury Park’s Carton, Arvenitis, McGreevy, Argeris, Zager & Aikins; and Manzo by Michael Tuzzio, a partner with Ronan, Tuzzio & Giannone in Tinton Falls. None could be reached for comment. $5M for Medical Malpractice Perfeito v. Unidentified Nurse: The family of a 9-year-old boy who was born with brain damage accepted $5 million on March 5 from an obstetrical nurse who allegedly failed to react to troubling fetal monitor readings during a difficult labor. The suit, filed in Essex County Superior Court, sought damages for Nicholas Perfeito of Rahway, born on April 4, 1991, at Elizabeth General Hospital. The fetal monitor readings suggested compression of the umbilical cord, which prevented the baby from getting enough oxygen, according to plaintiffs’ attorney Timothy Barnes of Chatham’s Barnes & Barnes. The nurse in charge failed to call the doctor on duty, and an emergency Caesarean section wasn’t performed until the doctor on the next shift noticed the problem, Barnes said. Barnes said the child has cerebral palsy, uses a wheelchair and will be dependent on others for the rest of his life. The plaintiff voluntarily dismissed claims against the two doctors, and Barnes said a confidentiality agreement bars release of the name of the nurse, who was insured by Princeton Insurance Co. Superior Court Judge Carol Ferentz presided over the settlement. Defense counsel Rowena Dur�n, of Mountainside’s Dur�n & Pandos, did not return telephone calls seeking comment. Barnes said that the defense would have argued at trial that the nurse’s response to the readings on the fetal monitor conformed to acceptable standards. $4.69M for Brain Damage Resulting From Vaccination King v. Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services: A girl who suffered crippling seizures and eventual brain damage after receiving a diphtheria-tetanus-pertusis vaccination received $4.69 million on Aug. 6 from a federally administered compensation fund. Within 11 hours of a DTP shot in September 1993, Mary King was hospitalized with seizures. Now nine years old, she has the functional level of a three-month old and will need a lifetime of care, said her lawyer, Mindy Michaels Roth of Glen Rock’s Britcher, Leone & Roth. Under the National Vaccine Compensation Act, plaintiffs claiming they were victims of the DTP vaccine must first seek recovery from a federal fund created by a tax on each vaccine manufactured and sold. Roth said that when a child suffers crippling seizures immediately after a DTP injection, as King did, the government bears the burden of proving there was an alternate cause of the injuries. U.S. Justice Department staff counsel Michael Milmoe presented evidence at a 1999 hearing that King suffered from a seizure disorder unrelated to DTP, but Special Master LaVon French ruled against the government. Roth said the payments reflect a final life-care plan selected in May by LaVon from options offered by Milmoe and Roth. Milmoe did not return a phone call on August 8. Further details worked out since May have led to the following payments: $524,261 in cash for life care expenses; $682,548 for lost future earnings, pain and suffering; $5,880 for King’s parents’ past unreimbursable expenses; $456,691 to pay a state Medicaid lien; and $3.024 million for an annuity that will yield annual payments totaling more than $60 million if King lives to be 71, Roth said. $4.2M Settlement of Suit Over Defect Not Detected in Utero Yepez v. Englewood Hospital: The family of a 5-year-old girl born with a heart defect that was not diagnosed in utero has accepted $4.2 million from four medical defendants in a wrongful birth case. According to the plaintiff’s attorneys, Dayna Yepez, of Teaneck, is developmentally delayed as a result of being born with a deformed left ventricle on Dec. 11, 1996, and since then has undergone three surgeries. While pregnant, the girl’s mother, Debra Yepez, consulted an obstetrician at Planned Parenthood of Greater Northern New Jersey in Hackensack and was referred to an obstetrician at Englewood Hospital, where an ultrasound was performed. The ultrasound technician reported he could not obtain a four-chamber view of the heart and signaled the possibility of a heart defect. The radiologist and the obstetrician should have ordered a follow-up ultrasound that would have verified the existence of the problem, according to the plaintiff’s counsel, Bruce Nagel and Robert Solomon, partners in Livingston’s Nagel Rice Dreifuss & Mazie. Shortly before the July 10 start of trial, held by Union County Superior Court Judge Thomas Lyons, the plaintiff accepted a $1-million settlement from the obstetrician. As indemnification for the obstetrician, the hospital added $675,000 and Planned Parenthood contributed $25,000. On July 17, at the end of the plaintiff’s case, the radiologist settled for $2.5 million, according to Solomon and the radiologist’s lawyer, James Sharp of Parsippany’s Reisman Sharp Brown & Rosenberg. A confidentiality agreement barred lawyers from identifying the obstetrician or radiologist. Sharp said his evidence showed that the radiologist provided the proper standard of care by passing along the ultrasound technician’s warning that the ultrasound had not shown all four chambers of the heart. It was the obstetrician’s responsibility to order the follow-up study, according to the defense. On behalf of the obstetrician, Daniel Pomeroy of Springfield’s Mortenson & Pomeroy prepared expert evidence that the obstetrician relied on the radiologist’s expertise. The radiologist, besides saying the heart pictures were incomplete, advised the obstetrician to explore possible clinical symptoms of a defect. Finding none, the obstetrician was not required to order another ultrasound, according to the obstetrician’s defense. David Cooner, a partner at Newark’s McCarter & English, represented Planned Parenthood. Michael Prigoff of Englewood’s Lebson, Prigoff & Baker and Patrick Clare, a partner in Springfield’s Hardin, Kundla, McKeon, Poletto & Polifroni, represented the hospital. $3.5M Settlement of Suit Claiming Medical Malpractice A U.S. Customs employee, who claimed that negligent medical treatment after an auto crash left him blind, received $1.4 million in cash and an annuity worth $2.1 million in present value under a settlement finalized on Oct. 19. James Jasey III, of Orange, was hurt in a three-car, chain reaction collision on Springfield Avenue in Newark on Nov. 23, 1999. He was hospitalized for two weeks with liver lacerations and other internal injuries, but his lawyer, Thomas Chesson, said that health-care personnel failed to act on symptoms of a gall bladder infection so severe that the organ eventually had to be removed. In the meantime, he went into cardio-respiratory arrest, which caused a loss of oxygenated blood to the optic nerves and which resulted in blindness, said Chesson, a partner with Morristown’s Porzio, Bromberg & Newman. Chesson said Jasey couldn’t recover sums from the other drivers in the crash. The car that started the accident was driven from the scene and was never identified; the car that hit Jasey’s was stolen and that driver ran away. The medical defendants did not answer the complaint because the carrier agreed to settle, said Chesson and defense lawyer Carl Greenberg of Short Hills’ Budd Larner Rosenbaum Greenberg & Sade. A suit was subsequently filed in Essex County Superior Court for the purposes of setting Chesson’s contingency fee, which Judge Eugene Codey Jr. did on Oct. 12. The lawyers agreed not to divulge the names of the defendants. The $2.1-million annuity will fund lifetime payments for Jasey, increasing at a rate of 4 percent a year and guaranteed for 20 years. For his actuarial life, the yield will be $5.75 million. $3.5M for Product Liability Brennan v. Navistar International Corp.: A truck driver who injured his back when a step on his rig broke was awarded $3.5 million on Jan. 18 by a Middlesex County jury. George Brennan, 58 at the time of the verdict, of Manalapan, was getting out of his truck on April 1, 1997, when a steel step tread came loose as he placed his foot on it. He fell on his back and fractured several ribs and vertebrae, aggravating a pre-existing spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spine. The step that dislodged on the 6-year-old truck made by Navistar International Corp. of Chicago was held in place by a rubber strap, said Brennan’s attorney, Ronald Grayzel, a partner at Levinson Axelrod in Edison. The suit claimed that the step’s design was defective and that three straps should have anchored the step. Navistar was represented by Edward Fanning of Tansey, Fanning, Haggerty, Kelly, Convery and Tracy in Woodbridge, who did not return calls requesting comment. Grayzel said Navistar claimed that Brennan shared responsibility because he failed to check the strap regularly. The jury found no negligence on Brennan’s part. After a two-week trial in front of Judge Melvin Gelade and a day of deliberation, the jury awarded $500,000 for past and future lost wages and $3 million for pain and suffering. Brennan has not worked since the accident, suffers from restricted motion in his left shoulder and needs a cane to walk. $3.5M in Suit Over Recycling Plant Explosion Lopez v. Damato Realty: A Passaic County jury awarded $3 million in damages on April 2 to a Paterson recycling plant worker injured in an explosion and $500,000 to the estate of another worker who died in the accident. Victor Lopez, 50, was severely burned on Dec. 1, 1997, when hundreds of aerosol cans discarded by a theatrical costuming company burst while being compacted at the facility. The other worker, Dariusz Wisniewski, 37, died almost immediately. Wisniewski was compacting the waste when Lopez, who was working nearby, started the engine of a forklift. The engine emitted a spark, igniting residual gas that had leaked from some of the crushed aerosol cans. The company that owned the facility, Joseph Damato Realty Co., was not licensed to recycle aerosol cans and had no permit to operate a recycling facility, said Lopez’s lawyer, Richard Weiner, who runs a Montvale firm. Lopez, who tried to run from the building, suffered third- and second-degree burns over most of his body and had his eyelids burned off. He underwent a series of skin grafts to repair the injuries, but still suffers from constant pain because of nerve damage, and from depression, said Weiner. The jury’s award for Lopez was for negligence on the part of Damato Realty and for pain and suffering. The $500,000 award to Wisniewski’s estate was for wrongful death, said the estate’s attorney, West Orange solo practitioner Steven Plofsky. Wisniewski, an immigrant, left behind two children in Poland. Plofsky said a claim against the company that delivered the aerosol cans, Travelers Trading Co., was settled earlier for $375,000. Weiner said a claim by Lopez against Travelers Trading also was settled earlier for $500,000. Damato Realty is insured by Penn National Insurance Co., which retained Joseph Kelley, a partner at Chatham’s Maloof, Lebowitz, Connahan & Oleske, who did not return telephone calls seeking comment. The trial judge was Burrell Ives Humphreys, a retired judge on recall. $3.5M for Failure To Disclose Results of Hepatitis Tests Cheryl and Frank Diehl v. St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center: A Passaic County jury awarded $3.5 million in a suit by a hospital nurse whose employer did not tell her for six years that she had tested positive for hepatitis C. Through accidental needle sticks and spills, Cheryl Diehl was exposed to patients’ blood three times between July 1991 and March 1997 at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center. Her suit charged that the in house employee-health office tested her for hepatitis three times during that period but officials failed to tell her the diagnosis or told her falsely that she had tested negative. In February 1998, after a conversation with a supervisor over whether she had tested positive, Diehl decided to look at her files in the office computer and found that the first positive diagnosis dated back to December 1992. The Diehls retained associate Adam Slater of Nagel, Rice, Dreifuss & Mazie in Livingston and sued the next year. The case went to trial before Superior Court Judge David Waks. Cheryl Diehl was awarded $2.925 million and her former husband was awarded $575,000. Through the years, Diehl suffered from the symptoms of the disease, which include chronic fatigue. She also gave birth to two children. But her tiredness and inability to pull her weight at home led to conflict with her husband, Frank, and the pair eventually divorced. Although hepatitis is transmissible sexually to partners and in utero to children, neither the husband nor the children were infected, Slater said. The Paterson hospital’s lawyer, Robert Baum, a partner with Hein, Smith, Berezin, Maloof & Jacobs in Hackensack, said he intends to appeal on the grounds that the failure to inform was accidental and not intentional, and that therefore Diehl’s claim should have been restricted to workers’ compensation. $3.2M for Boating Accident Hartley v. Flowers: A $3.2-million settlement was reached on Dec. 19 in a federal court suit over a boating collision that killed three men and injured another. The plaintiffs’ attorneys agreed to keep confidential the apportionment of the settlement among the survivor, Charles Hartley, 77, of Turnersville, and the estates of Thomas Decker, 58, and Donald Shiko, 75, both of Clementon, and Carlo Laterza, 71, of Gibbstown. The men were fishing two miles offshore from Beach Haven on Oct. 12, 2000, when their 20-foot boat was struck by a 70-foot yacht that witnesses said was moving erratically at a high rate of speed. Decker, who owned the smaller boat, was unable to start it to move it out of the way. The yacht pushed it underwater. Hartley jumped in the water just before the yacht hit. Shiko’s legs were severed in the impact, witnesses said, which may have contributed to his death. Decker apparently drowned. Laterza’s body was never found. Hartley suffered a broken bone and severed ligaments above his left ankle. He required two surgeries to implant a plate and screws in his leg, said his attorney, Frank Allen, a partner at Archer & Greiner in Haddonfield. Allen also represented Shiko’s estate. James Beausoleil, an associate at Duane, Morris & Heckscher in Philadelphia, represented Decker’s estate. The Laterza estate’s lawyer was Dante Sarubbi, of Audubon’s Sarubbi & Sarubbi. Mount Holly solo practitioner Timothy Annin represented the yacht’s owner and operator, Barry Flowers, a Jupiter, Fla., resident. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Camden on diversity jurisdiction. It included counts of wrongful death, pain and suffering, spouses’ loss of consortium and a lost wage claim for Decker. The settlement, reached after a settlement conference with U.S. Magistrate Judge Joel Rosen, calls for Flowers’ insurance policy with American Yachts Limited of Baltimore to pay $3 million and for Decker’s policy with Allstate of Northbrook, Ill., to pay $200,000. (Flowers filed a third-party complaint against Decker.) Allen said the plaintiffs settled because both insurance policies reached their limits and because the three deceased men left needy widows who did not want to wait for the outcome of a trial. Flowers’ attorney, Annin, declined to comment on the case, since his client faced pending charges of death by vessel. Flowers’ criminal defense attorney, Justin Walder, of Roseland’s Walder, Hayden & Brogan, also declined to comment. $3M for Injuries in Accident Caused by Leaking Fuel D’Olivera v. Patten: A Somerset County jury awarded $3 million on Oct. 5 to a former Hillsborough woman who suffered neck injuries in a car accident caused by leaking diesel fuel. Two previous juries had handed up no-cause verdicts. On May 16, 1994, Wilma D’Olivera was a passenger in a car driven by her fianc�, Ted Jarusewski. As they headed south on Route 206 in Montgomery, they were struck from behind by another car. Both drivers lost control on pavement slippery from diesel fuel leaking from a tractor-trailer, according to the plaintiff’s attorney Patrick Cahalane, an associate in Dean Anglin‘s Cranbury firm. D’Olivera suffered cervical herniations at the C4-5 and C6-7 vertebrae, requiring a discectomy and fusion, involving placement of metal plating and bone grafts, said Cahalane. She later suffered a hip fracture where bone had been taken for her neck. The fracture caused pain and numbness down her thigh, and for two years after the accident, D’Olivera needed a physical therapist and home health aide. D’Olivera, 56 at the time of the verdict, suffers from headaches, restricted movement and chronic neck pain from the metal plate in her neck and has a scar on the front of her neck that cannot be concealed by clothing, said Cahalane. She also can’t walk for a few days when her hip injury flares up. Before the accident, she jogged and did aerobics and weightlifting but now can only do light exercise and stretching. D’Olivera’s suit named the other car’s driver, Diane Micol, 36, of Somerville; truck driver John Dallas Patten, 62, of Eagle, Idaho; and his employer, United Van Lines of Fenton, Mo. Calahane said that when Patten drove along the road in his 18-wheeler moving van a short time before the accident, he struck a piece of metal debris that ruptured his fuel tank. He stopped a quarter-mile away, but Cahalane said Patten did not see the debris because he was tailgating and should have stopped sooner after hearing the sound of the tank rupturing. United was dismissed from the case on a motion, and a jury found no cause against Patten and Micol in 1997. Judge Robert Guterl then granted the plaintiff’s motion for a retrial against Patten because he had acknowledged at trial that his conduct was contrary to truck driving safety standards, said Anglin, who tried that case. During a second trial before Guterl in May 2000, with Anglin again representing D’Olivera, a jury again found no cause against Patten. But Guterl then entered a judgment notwithstanding the verdict in favor of the plaintiff and ordered a hearing on damages. After a three-day hearing before Judge John Richardson and an hour of deliberation on Oct. 5, a jury returned the $3-million verdict. Patten was insured by Vanliner Insurance, the in-house carrier for United Van Lines. His attorney Gary Price, a partner at Buttafuoco, Arce & Price in Kearny, did not return calls requesting comment.

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