A West Orange woman has received $10 million in Dertouzos v NJ Transit as compensation for having both legs amputated after being run over by a public transit bus.
Plaintiff Claire Dertouzos, now 65, received her settlement funds from defendant NJ Transit on Sept. 10., according to one of her attorneys, Michelle Greenberg.
Greenberg, of Frier Levitt in Pine Brook, handled the case along with Jonathan Levitt, a partner at the firm.
Dertouzos was injured on May 28, 2016, while crossing Mount Prospect Avenue at Heller Parkway in Newark, according to Greenberg.
The bus, driven by NJ Transit employee Erick Estil, was making a left turn. The lawsuit, filed in Essex County Superior Court, alleged that Estil didn’t see Dertouzos crossing the street in the crosswalk before striking her, Greenberg said.
The rear wheels of the bus ran over Dertouzos’ legs, causing such extensive damage that both legs had to be amputated above the knees, Greenberg said, noting that Dertouzos now is confined to a wheelchair.
NJ Transit, which is self-insured, retained Thomas Hart of Ruprecht, Hart, Weeks & Ricciardulli in Westfield. He did not return a call about the case.
Superior Court Judge Bridget Stecher had been assigned to the case, but there had been no trial date scheduled, Greenberg said.
The case settled after mediation with retired New Jersey Superior Court Judge Eugene Codey of Connell Foley.
— Michael Booth
$650K for Injured School Aide
Pribila-Bisset v. Green Line Moving Corp.: An aide for special needs students injured in a fall on a moving school bus was paid a $650,000 settlement in her Middlesex County suit.
On May 1, 2013, Michele Pribila-Bisset was on a moving school bus on Broad Street in Sewaren. She was standing because she was tending to a student on the bus. On the same street, a moving truck owned by Green Line Moving Corp. of Woodbridge was backing into a residential driveway and struck phone wires overhead, according to the plaintiff’s attorney, Cory Anne Cassidy of Riposta Lawyers in North Arlington.
The suit claimed that the wires fell just as the bus was passing, and became tangled with one of the bus’ rear-view mirrors, jarring the bus and causing Pribila-Bisset to fall forward. The defense acknowledged that the moving truck struck the wires but disputed that the downed wires led to her fall, Cassidy said.
Pribila-Bisset, currently 31, injured her right, dominant shoulder. She was pregnant at the time and had to wait until after the birth to receive treatment to the shoulder, which consisted of three surgeries, according to Cassidy. The suit claimed Pribilia-Bisset began to experience regional pain syndrome as a result of the shoulder injury. She is not currently experiencing pain and has returned to work, but is prone to flare-ups, Cassidy said.
The suit named Green Line and the truck driver, Djafar Sharopov.
The parties settled on July 2, a week before a scheduled trial date, during preparation of video-recorded medical testimony for the trial, Cassidy said. The settlement amount, $650,000 of a $750,000 policy, was paid in August, she said.
Green Line’s carrier was State Farm.
Green Line’s counsel, Stephen Czeslowski of Campbell, Foley, Delano & Adams in Asbury Park, didn’t return a call about the case.
— David Gialanella
$500K in Passaic Auto Case
Alicea v. Van Peenen: A woman who suffered spinal injuries when her car was rear-ended in a multi-vehicle crash agreed to a $500,000 settlement in her Passaic County personal injury suit on Aug. 21.
Michele Alicea was driving on Valley Road in Wayne on June 1, 2017, when she came to a stop in traffic in the right lane, near Runymede Drive. Raymond Van Peenen, who was approaching the intersection, failed to stop and struck another vehicle from behind. That vehicle then hit the rear of Alicea’s car, the suit claimed.
Alicea, then 51, suffered injuries to the cervical spine and right arm, and was treated and released from a local hospital. Later, MRIs showed disc herniations at C6-C7 and C7-T1, and she received physical therapy, and then underwent an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion. But she continues to suffer disability and ongoing pain, said her attorney, James Kimball of Seigel Law in Ridgewood.
After pre-suit negotiations failed, Alicea filed suit against Van Peenen and his business, Van Peenen Landscape Contractor, which was the vehicle’s registered owner. Following additional negotiations with the company’s insurance carrier, AmTrust North America, the case settled for the $500,000 policy limit prior to filing of an answer to the complaint, Kimball said.
AmTrust had not assigned counsel to the case, and adjuster Christie Freeman negotiated for the company. An AmTrust spokesman, Hunter Hoffman, confirmed the settlement. Freeman could not be reached directly.
— Charles Toutant