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Just before midnight on Sept. 9, 1995, Kenneth Morrison, then 32, was crossing York Avenue in New York when he was hit by a cab. The impact threw Morrison in the air and caused catastrophic head injuries. Morrison, a former financial trader who earned $420,000 in 1994, was in a coma for two months and underwent multiple surgeries, but he was left permanently disabled. “He can’t speak, except for a few words, like ‘hello,’ or ‘apple,’ ” said his attorney, Christopher Jon Longman. “ He can’t walk, can’t stand without assistance, is incontinent and can’t eat solid foods.” His mother, as co-conservator of his estate, sued the owner and the driver of the taxi. When “the defendants failed to adhere to several discovery orders,” Longman said, the court entered a liability judgment for the plaintiff; the trial addressed damages only. Because of the extent of the injuries, Longman’s challenge was to prove that Morrison was aware of his loss and his surroundings in order to establish pain and suffering. “He couldn’t speak, so to demonstrate cognitive awareness, I put a lifelong friend of his on the stand,” Longman said. The witness, R.J. Kelly, who often visits Morrison at the rehabilitation home where he now lives, testified that he tested Morrison’s recall of people and events. “He would say things and Ken would give a thumbs up or thumbs down sign,” Longman said. When he mentioned Morrison’s fraternity, “Ken reached up and gave him the secret Sigma Chi handshake,” he said. On Aug. 23, a Manhattan jury awarded Morrison $37.12 million — including $19.5 million for pain and suffering and $4 million for future medical costs. The judge cut the latter amount, however, calling it speculative. Even if the verdict is upheld on appeal, it may be a Pyrrhic victory: The owner of the cab has only $10,000 of insurance, a taxi medallion worth about $225,000 and some real estate on Long Island. “Ken’s never going to see $33 million, that’s for sure,” Longman said. The plaintiff’s attorney was Christopher Jon Longman of Ginsberg & Broome in New York. The defense attorney was John Nicolini of Paradise, Feretti & Sabella in Mineola, N.Y.

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