Desiree Nanni v. Nicholas Tarpinian: A former University of Connecticut student who was rear-ended in traffic around Easter time a few years ago and suffered a low back injury was awarded more than $38,500 recently by a Litchfield jury.

On April 3, 2010, Desiree Nanni, an English major and religious studies minor at UConn was headed to the home of her grandmother, who had raised her, to spend Easter weekend, according to her lawyer, James R. Miron, of Zeisler & Zeisler in Bridgeport.

Miron said Nanni was driving on a busy stretch of Route 4 in Farmington near the University of Connecticut Health Center. She was stopped in traffic, waiting for cars coming in the opposite direction to pass so she could make a left turn. That’s when, without warning, a vehicle driven by Nicholas Tarpinian rear-ended Nanni’s vehicle, said Miron.

"She felt nauseous and some pain at the scene," said Miron. "She ended up getting a ride and thought she’d sleep it off at grandma’s house."

Miron said Nanni returned to the UConn campus a few days later, and went to the university’s walk-in health center, where she was given some muscle relaxants and a heavier dose of Tylenol to address the contiued back pain. She was told to return for a follow-up visit, but she didn’t do so for quite some time.

"She figured she’d be sore and stiff for a while but she’d get better," said Miron. "She was a healthy fit young woman. She did P90X, an intensive workout program."

Miron said Nanni became concerned because her back pain did not get better. However, she delayed making a doctor’s appointment because she had finals to get through. Finally, two months after the accident, she went to the emergency room one night for back pain. Thereafter, she began receiving treatments from a chiropractor, said Miron.

Miron said Nanni’s medical bills ended up exceeding $4,000.

Miron, who then worked for Trantolo & Trantolo, filed a lawsuit on Nanni’s behalf and an offer of compromise for $27,000. The best offer that the defendant’s insurance company made to settle the case was $10,000, said Miron.

"We were willing to work with them within that," said Miron. "Unfortunately the defense just wouldn’t come up above their offer."

Tarpinian was represented by attorney Mike McMinn, of Stamford, who could not be reached for comment for this story.

"The difference was real money to my client," said Miron. "To my client, who now lives in Florida and works a minimum wage job, a few thousand dollars is a big deal."

Miron said the defense focused on the gaps in treatment at trial. Liability was clear-cut, as Tarpinian was at fault for the crash. Tarpinian, incarcerated on an unrelated felony charge, was unable to appear at the civil trial in this case, noted Miron.

"My client had no prior injuries and made a very credible witness," Miron said of his client’s testimony at trial.

The trial before Judge John Pickard in Litchfield Superior Court lasted about two days. The jury deliberated for an hour and then awarded Nanni $4,535 in economic damages and $30,000 in non-economic damages.

Due to pre-judgment interest on the offer to compromise, the total verdict came to $38,526.

"It was a good result for the type of case that it was," said Miron. "I think the jury was very fair. While it wasn’t one of these giant six- or seven-figure settlements that get the big headlines, for my client it was more than she would’ve settled for."

Miron said that Nanni now lives in Florida with her husband.•