A jury has awarded $275,153 plus punitive damages to a 50-year-old man who was injured when his car was struck near a road-construction site.
The New Haven Superior Court jury rendered its verdict Dec. 14 after eight hours of deliberations spanning two days. The jury found in favor of Randy Banks, who had stopped for road construction when his car was rear-ended by an SUV driven by Lauren Paterson, 44, of Avon. Arguments revolved around whether a knee injury suffered by Banks had occurred before or during the accident.
An amended lawsuit was filed in New Haven Superior Court Dec. 11
Michael Fenton, Banks’ attorney, said the defense built its case on the fact that Banks saw orthopedic specialist Dr. Alan Reznick for left knee pain 18 days before the accident.
“Dr. Reznick said maybe there was or maybe there was not a meniscal tear prior to the accident, but he strongly believes the accident caused the bone fragment to come loose inside the meniscal, and that caused his severe pain and inability to walk at the time,” said Fenton, a partner with Carter Mario Injury Lawyers. “This accident exacerbated the prior injury.”
Reznick testified that he didn’t know if Banks had a meniscal tear before the accident because an MRI wasn’t taken at the time, Fenton said. Reznick, of Connecticut Orthopedics Specialists in Branford, did take an MRI after the accident that showed the tear.
Dr. Steven Selden was called as an expert witness for the defense to dispute Reznick’s testimony, Fenton said.
“Dr. Selden said what our side was saying was ridiculous.” Fenton said. “He said our client had a meniscal tear prior to the accident and that was the reason he needed surgery. He said it was not related to the accident.”
Banks had knee surgery in November 2015, two months after the accident and incurred $43,698 in medical expenses, Fenton said.
Fenton said the defense made an initial offer of $90,000. He sought $300,000, the amount of Paterson’s policy with USAA Insurance. Fenton said the amount of punitive damages is expected to be announced at a later date.
USAA Insurance was represented by James Noonan, a partner with Ryan Ryan DeLuca. Noonan did not respond to a request for comment Friday.
Paterson was charged with illegal operation of a motor vehicle under the influence, following too closely and operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license. She pleaded guilty and paid a $2,000 fine. Paterson was also sentenced to three years in jail, with execution suspended after one year, and two years’ probation.
Fenton said Paterson refused to take a blood alcohol test, and that police did not report how fast she had been traveling. He added that two previous drunken driving arrests were not allowed as evidence by Superior Court Judge Denise Markle. “The judge thought it was too prejudicial and irrelevant. There was definitely a heated argument on that.”