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Jury Awards $800,000 After Defense Rejects $250,000 Auto Arbitration Riposta v. Proformance Insurance Co.: A Hudson County jury awarded $800,000 on Dec. 18 to an automobile accident victim who was forced to try her post-traumatic stress claim after the defense rejected a $250,000 arbitration award. Diane Riposta, of Kearny, sued Proformance Insurance Co. of Freehold under the underinsured motorist provision of her policy. In 1999, she settled for $90,000 of the $100,000 policy held by the other driver in the Newark collision in which she was hurt. On March 13, 1998, Joaquin Aravso, of Newark, failed to heed a stop sign and struck Riposta’s car, causing her brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder, according to her lawyers at Woodbridge’s Gill & Chamas, Raymond Gill Jr. and associate Kevin Parsons. Parsons says that at the damages-only trial, they presented evidence of a herniated disk, cognitive deficits, post-traumatic stress disorder and persistent pain in her lower back, right leg and right foot. Their evidence showed that Riposta, 40 at the time of the accident, can no longer work as an administrator for the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission or care for her children, one of whom is mentally handicapped. Parsons says expert evidence presented by defense counsel Denise Luckenbach, a partner in Roseland’s Sellar Richardson, showed that the herniated disk was a pre-accident condition, that the post-traumatic stress was resolved in three months, that no objective tests showed brain injury and that Riposta’s IQ remained constant since the time of the accident. Luckenbach confirms the size of the verdict and says the defense is considering post-trial motions. Superior Court Judge Barbara Curran presided at the trial. � By Henry Gottlieb $750,000 for Elevator Injuries Sporer v. Global Elevator Technologies: An elevator maintenance company agreed on Dec. 15 to pay $750,000 for injuries a Union County corrections officer suffered in an accident allegedly caused by poorly maintained brakes. During a power outage at the county jail on Dec. 23, 2000, the elevator in which James Sporer, of Linden, was riding came to an abrupt halt while descending. The suit claimed Sporer suffered left knee derangement, with internal damage to the cartilage and ligaments, a strained neck and a herniated disk at L4-L5. His lawyer, Michael Forrester, a partner with Clark’s Perrotta, Fraser, Forrester & Panitch, says Sporer underwent two arthroscopic knee surgeries and lumbar fusion surgery on the disk, with insertion of pedicle screws, but the disk surgery was not completely successful, leaving Sporer with limited motion and chronic pain that have caused total and permanent disability. He cannot sit or stand for long periods of time, has a restricted ability to lift and twist, takes medication for chronic pain and might require further fusion surgery. Sporer, now 34, and his wife Jennifer sued Global Elevator Technologies, of Totowa, which had a contract to maintain the elevators. They also sued Public Service Electric & Gas, but on Dec. 15, the day trial was to start, Forrester and Global’s lawyer, Joseph Kelley, agreed to let PSE&G out of the case and then settle. Forrester’s engineering expert, Eugene Stiffler, of Sparta, would have testified at trial that if the elevator brakes had been properly maintained, they would have stopped in the proper manner. Global was insured by Gulf Insurance Group under a $10 million policy, Forrester says. Kelley, a partner with Chatham’s Maloof, Lebowitz, Connahan & Oleske, did not return a call seeking comment. PSE&G’s attorney, George Keefer III, could not be reached for comment. � By Mary P. Gallagher

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