A plaintiff will receive $7 million in his Middlesex County suit, Vaidya v. Bank of America, as compensation for injuries he sustained when he slipped and fell in an icy parking lot.

Plaintiff Chetan Vaidya, now 53, of Plainsboro, agreed to the settlement with the defendants on June 29 after a series of conferences before Middlesex County Superior Court Judge Jamie Happas, said Vaidya’s  attorney, Nicholas Leonardis.

Vaidya was injured on Feb. 9, 2015, in the parking lot of a Bank of America branch on Route 518 in Rocky Hill, said Leonardis, of Stathis & Leonardis in Edison.

The  parking lot was covered with ice and had not been salted, Leonardis said. He slipped and fell as he attempted to step onto a sidewalk while going to the bank’s ATM.

Vaidya struck his head and body on the parking lot, rendering him a quadriplegic and causing partial vocal chord paralysis, Leonardis said.

Vaidya, after surgery and physical therapy, has regained the power to walk and drive a car, but has not been able to return to work, Leonardis said.

Vaidya sued Bank of America; CBRE, the building owner; a subcontractor, Brickman Group; and the company it hired to maintain the sidewalk, Best Landscaping.

ACE American Insurance Co. represented Best, and contributed $1 million toward to the settlement, Leonardis said, while American General Insurance and Liability and Zurich American Insurance Co. will pay the remainder as umbrella carriers, Leonardis said.

Jared Duvoisin, of Newark’s Tompkins, McGuire, Wachenfeld & Barry, represented Bank of America, CBRE and Brickman. Lane Ferdinand, who runs a firm in Springfield, represented Best.

Both confirmed the amount of the settlement.

— Michael Booth

$400K UIM Pre-Suit Settlement

Dunn v. Fidelity &  Guaranty: A pedestrian struck by a vehicle in a convenience store parking lot recovered $500,000 for her injuries, including a $400,000 settlement in under-insured motorist claim reached prior to suit being filed in court.

On July 5, 2015, Barbara Dunn visited the 7-Eleven store on Bridge Avenue in Point Pleasant. Upon exiting the store, she began crossing the parking lot to return to her home on the other side of the street when a vehicle driven by Robert Hart of Point Pleasant entering the parking lot struck her, throwing her onto the hood of the vehicle and then onto the parking lot surface, said her lawyer, Andrew Renda Jr. of Renda & Voynick in Cedar Grove.

Dunn, currently 62, sustained a displaced, comminuted fracture to her left knee, which she claimed has a permanent effect. She underwent one surgery with implantation of hardware, and two subsequent arthroscopic surgeries to address inflammation and remove scar tissue, Renda said, noting that she has permanent issues with mobility.

Dunn filed suit against Hart, claiming he was not paying attention when he pulled into the parking lot, and that claim previously settled for his $100,000 policy limit, according to Renda.

She then filed an under-insured motorist claim with her auto carrier, Fidelity & Guaranty Insurance, which proceeded to arbitration before a three-member panel. Fidelity didn’t dispute causation, Renda said.

Following discovery, the panel in January 2018 awarded $600,000, meaning a net award of $500,000 including a credit for the $100,000 settlement with Hart, Renda said. Fidelity rejected the award, clearing the way for the dispute to go to court, but the parties settled prior to the complaint being filed, in late April, for the policy limit of $400,000, he said.

The sum was paid on May 14, according to Renda.

Fidelity’s counsel, Michael Mourtzanakis of William E. Staehle‘s Morristown firm, did not reply to a request for comment.

— David Gialanella