The family of a Fort Lee woman who was struck and killed by a bus while attempting to cross the street is to receive $5 million as compensation in a Bergen County suit, Kan v. Rainbow Transportation.

The family of Leyla Kan, the deceased woman, and American Alternative Insurance Co., the carrier for defendant Rainbow Transport of Bergenfield and its driver, Esperanza Jaramillo, agreed to the settlement on Feb. 9, said the family’s attorney, Englewood solo Robert LInder.

Kan was struck and killed on Aug. 7, 2014, as she was walking across Broad Avenue at Fort Lee Road in Leonia, in a marked intersection, Linder said.

Kan was struck by the school bus and dragged 71 feet. She was pronounced dead at the scene, Linder said.

The victim’s family filed a wrongful death and survivorship claim against Rainbow Transport and its driver in Bergen County Superior Court. The case had been managed by Superior Court Judge Rachel Harz, but had not yet been scheduled for trial. It settled during discovery.

American Alternative was represented by Danielle DeGeorgio, of Faust Goetz Schenker & Blee in Livingston. She did not return a call about the case.

Kan was the owner and operator of the Picnic Café, a restaurant in Palisades Park. Kan is survived by her husband, Oktay Kan; her son, Atilla Kan; and her grandson, Tristan Kan, Linder noted.

— Michael Booth

$1.3M Verdict in Monmouth Auto Case

Reid v. Radcliffe-Bivins: A Monmouth County jury awarded $1.3 million on Jan. 26 to a man who suffered severe back and neck injuries in a head-on crash. But the verdict far exceeds available coverage in the case, and the total recovery is $80,000.

Melvin Reid was a passenger in a vehicle driven by his son Marc in February 2014 when their vehicle collided with one driven by Jonathan Radcliffe-Bivins on Route 70 in Toms River.

Reid, then 68, developed herniated discs in his neck and back, but was not considered a candidate for surgery. His treatment included cervical facet blocks and lumbar epidural injections, said plaintiff lawyer Daniel Santarsiero of Jonathan Marshall‘s office in Red Bank.

Previously, Reid regularly worked on home remodeling projects, but following the accident, his chronic pain and inability to engage in his prior activities took a significant toll on his personality and relationships with family members, the suit claimed.

Radcliffe-Bivins was released from liability after tendering his $20,000 policy with GEICO, and Reid brought an under-insured motorist claim against his own policy with Allstate, which had $100,000 in coverage. He also gave notice of claim in connection with his son’s under-insured motorist policy with New Jersey Manufacturers, which chose not to participate in the trial, according to Santasiero.

During a five-day trial before Judge Mara Zazzali-Hogan, Allstate asserted that Reid’s spinal injury was caused by a pre-existing degenerative disc disease, Santarsiero said. Reid did not dispute that he had pre-existing degeneration in his spine, but indicated that prior to the crash, his spine did not force him to limit his activities.

The jury awarded $1.25 million to Reid and $50,000 to his wife, Mary Lynn, on a per quod claim. Allstate paid $80,000, representing the $100,000 coverage limit minus the contribution of Radcliffe-Bivins.

Santarsiero said he will now seek to recover from the under-insured motorist portion of Reid’s son’s policy with New Jersey Manufacturers, whose policy limit is unknown.

Sean Doherty of Pamela Hargrove‘s office in Wall, who represented Allstate at trial, did not return a call seeking comment.

— Charles Toutant

$350K Cumberland Verdict in Fall

Vega v. Family Dollar Stores Inc.: A Cumberland County jury awarded $350,533 to a woman who fell while shopping on Jan. 11.

According to counsel for the plaintiff, on Dec. 23, 2013, plaintiff Yolanda Vega, 57, was shopping with her daughter at a Family Dollar store in Vineland. She asserted that as she was walking at the end of an aisle, she slipped on a large area of clear liquid. She landed on her backside and claimed she injured her neck, shoulders and spine.

Vega sued Family Dollar Stores Inc., alleging negligence in maintaining the premises, creating a dangerous condition. The liquid that Vega had slipped on came from a bottle of cleaner which was found on the floor near the spill. Vega’s counsel argued that the liquid had been on the floor for some time. Vega’s counsel further faulted the store for being understaffed, particularly since it was the holiday season. There was only one employee in the store at the time, and that employee’s duty was to be behind the register, instead of inspecting the store for potential dangerous conditions.

Vega was hospitalized and later presented to her primary care physician, who referred her to a chiropractor. Vega treated with chiropractic care and physical therapy. An orthopedic surgeon diagnosed herniations at C3-4, C4-5, C5-6, and C6-7; bulging at lumbar discs L2-3, L3-4, L4-5, and L5-S1; and other injuries. She received epidural injections and at the time of trial continued to take pain medication and consult with her pain-management physician. Vega’s orthopedic surgeon and pain-management specialist both causally related her injuries and treatment to the accident, and opined that they were permanent in nature.

Family Dollar asserted that it had no notice of the spill and that Vega was unable to establish how long the liquid had been on the floor or how it had gotten on the floor. Family Dollar’s expert in orthopedic surgery, who examined Vega and reviewed her films, determined that her MRIs showed pre-existing, degenerative conditions, and that any accident-related injury would have long subsided.

The matter was tried for three days before Superior Court Judge James R. Swift. The jury found Family Dollar liable for Vega’s accident and injuries. and awarded $300,000 in non-economic damages and $50,533 for past medical expenses.

Vega was represented by Jeremy M. Weitz of Spear, Greenfield, Richman & Weitz in Philadelphia. Family Dollar was represented by Matthew R. Harris of Mintzer Sarowitz Zeris Ledva & Meyers in Cherry Hill,

Editor’s note: This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff’s counsel. Defense counsel did not respond to the reporter’s phone calls.

— VerdictSearch Reports