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Taglieri v. Moss and Warnebold v. Moss:

A doctor accused of turning two patients into addicts by overprescribing painkillers agreed on April 27 to pay $250,000 to one patient and $1.2 million to the estate of the other. A pharmacy that filled some of the prescriptions paid another $50,000.

William Taglieri, executor of Mark Yatrofsky’s estate, alleged that East Brunswick internist Albert Moss prescribed massive doses of Tylox, Valium and Soma for Yatrofsky’s back pain from 1980 to 1999, ignoring other doctors’ warnings that he was addicted. In 1999, while under the influence of drugs, Yatrofsky fell down a stairway, hit his head and died, according to plaintiff’s lawyer David Mazie, of Livingston’s Nagel Rice & Mazie.

According to Mazie, Moss gave Yatrofsky months worth of prescriptions that Yatrofsky dated and presented to Boyt’s Pharmacy, a store subsequently taken over by Eckerd Drugs, when he felt a need for the pills.

In the companion case, Leonard Leicht, of Morgan, Melhuish, Monaghan, Arvidson, Abrutyn & Lisowsky in Livingston, says Moss over-prescribed Tylox and Percoset to Claus Warnebold from 1997 to 2001, who was taking Percoset before he saw Moss.

Leicht says Moss was an employee of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey for two of the four years he treated Warnegold and was found to have violated state regulations on drug dispensing. As a result of the finding of willfulness, Moss had less coverage for Warnegold than for Yatrofsky, whom he treated privately for almost 20 years.

In February, an appeals court affirmed a lower court grant of summary judgment to the plaintiffs on liability. The parties settled just before trial on damages in Middlesex County, Mazie and Leicht say.

The drug store’s lawyer, Jerald Howarth of Parsippany’s Hahn & Howarth, says the defense evidence showed that pharmacists called Moss before filling prescriptions Yatrofsky presented. Moss’ counsel, James Sharp of Parsippany’s Brown & Sharp, did not return calls last week.

— By Henry Gottlieb

No Cause in $1M Disability Claim

Selbst v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyds of London:

An Essex County jury last Wednesday no caused a former stock trader who claimed she could no longer work due to stress and sought $1 million in permanent disability benefits.

For 11 years, Ronnie Selbst, 51, of West Orange, owned Prako Co. and traded options on the American Stock Exchange. She stopped trading in 1996 on the advice of a psychiatrist to whom she complained of stress due to a divorce, construction of a new home and the pressures of working on the Amex floor, the suit alleged. She claimed to suffer memory loss, inability to concentrate and a personality disorder.

Selbst had purchased temporary and permanent disability insurance policies with Lloyds. She had received $600,000 in temporary disability benefits by the time she filed her permanent disability claim in 2001, says the insurer’s attorney, James Orr, of Newark’s Wilson, Eiser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker.

Orr presented psychiatric testimony that Selbst was able to return to work and a trading expert’s testimony that modern computers make the work less stressful.

Superior Court Judge Stephen Bernstein presided at trial. The jury deliberated for about two hours, Orr says.

Selbst’s attorney, Michael Block, a partner at Hackensack’s Sullivan, Papain, Block, McGrath & Cannavo, did not return a telephone call seeking comment.

By Michael Booth

$620,000 for Auto Injuries

Brenner v. Bilancia:

A passenger injured in a Pennsylvania car crash agreed to a $620,000 settlement last week, bringing her total recovery to $850,000.

Bonnie Brenner, the director of facilities and human resources at Princeton’s Stark & Stark, was a passenger of law firm vendor Hank Strauss on Route I-95 when the hood of the car ahead of him flew open. Strauss, who was allegedly following too closely, struck the rear of the other vehicle.

Brenner claimed that December 1998 accident aggravated a degenerative cervical disc disease, requiring a fusion, and diminished her work-life expectancy. Afterwards, she had physical therapy, pain management injections and traction.

The suit named Strauss and the other driver, Richard Bilancia of Long Valley, Pa. At a trial on damages last year, a jury apportioned 90 percent of liability to Strauss and 10 percent to Bilancia. Last July, Bilancia settled for $230,000.

Mercer County Judge Paul Koenig presided at last Tuesday’s trial on damages against Strauss alone. After jury selection, Strauss agreed to settle for $620,000.

Raymond Gill Jr. of Gill & Chamas in Woodbridge represented Brenner. Neither Bilancia’s lawyer, Louis DeMille Jr. of Romando, Astorino & DeMille in Hamilton, nor Strauss’s lawyer, Aldo Russo of Russo & Della Badia in Livingston, returned calls for comment.

Bilancia’s carrier was Branchville’s Selective Insurance Co. Strauss’s was The Proformance Insurance Co. of Freehold.

— By Charles Toutant

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