In Gonzalez v. Feldman, a Middlesex County jury awarded $3.6 million on Sept. 21 to a man who was struck by a car while crossing Route 18 in New Brunswick on a bicycle.
Abimael Gonzalez, now 42, was crossing the highway near Paulus Boulevard in New Brunswick in the early morning hours of July 15, 2015, when he was struck by a southbound car driven by Leslie Feldman, according to his suit.
Gonzalez’s lawyer, Greg Stathis of Stathis & Leonardis in Edison, said Gonzalez was returning home from a friend’s house, and acknowledged consuming two beers earlier in the evening, but claimed the road was clear when he crossed. Feldman, a nurse at a local hospital who was working a night shift, was driving within the speed limit and was not using her mobile phone at the time of the accident, and said she never saw Gonzalez before striking him with the left front fender of her car, according to Stathis.
Gonzalez suffered fractures to his skull, right hip, pubic bone and lumbar vertebrae, and a ruptured bladder, requiring orthopedic and abdominal surgery. Gonzalez is a cook at a restaurant in New Brunswick, but he was off the job for four months after the accident and now works a reduced schedule, Stathis said.
Gonzalez’s suit went to trial after Feldman’s insurance company, New Jersey Manufacturers, offered him a $25,000 settlement, which he rejected, Stathis said. Following four days of trial before Superior Court Judge Patrick Bradshaw, the jury awarded Gonzalez $3.6 million.
Feldman’s auto policy limit is $300,000, but Stathis said he is considering a claim that declining to increase the settlement offer beyond $25,000 was done in bad faith.
Rita Barone of Purcell, Mulcahy & Flanagan in Bedminster, who represented Feldman, did not respond to a reporter’s call about the verdict.
— Charles Toutant
$1.2M for Auto Accidents
Kreuzer v. Accurso: A Wyckoff woman is to receive $1.2 million as compensation for injuries she sustained in two automobile accidents.
Plaintiff Jeanne Kreuzer, now 54, agreed to the settlements in the two consolidated cases on Sept. 12, said her attorney, Edward Capozzi.
Kreuzer was injured in unrelated accidents on Dec. 19, 2011, and Oct. 28, 2015, said Capozzi, of Roseland’s Brach Eichler.
The first accident occurred as she was stopped in traffic on Route 4 in Paramus, Capozzi said. She was struck from behind by a taxi cab owned by Rye Brook Taxi and Airport Services, and driven by an employee, Santo Accurso.
As a result of that accident, Kreuzer sustained back injuries that required cervical injections, Capozzi said.
The second accident occurred when Kreuzer was again stopped in traffic, this time of Goffle Road in Ridgewood, Capozzi said. She was struck from behind by a van owned by Jager Landscaping of Oakland and driven by an employee, Osvaldo Cruz, Capozzi said.
Because of that accident, Kreuzer required surgery to repair exacerbated back injuries resulting from the initial accident, Capozzi said.
Shortly after the initial accident, Kreuzer received $25,000 from the carrier for Rye Brook, which represented the policy limits. Capozzi could not identify the carrier.
Kreuzer then filed lawsuits against Jager’s carrier, Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., and her own carrier, Plymouth Rock Insurance Co., for underinsured motorist benefits.
The case was scheduled to go to trial in Bergen County before Superior Court Judge Lisa Friscia when they settled, Capozzi said.
Liberty Mutual agreed to pay $800,000. Plymouth Rock agreed to pay $300,000 from the Rye Brook claim and $95,000 from the Jager UIM claim, Capozzi said.
Liberty Mutual retained Frank Barnett of Morristown’s Viscomi & Lyons. Plymouth Rock retained John Burke of Burke & Potenza in Parsippany for the Rye Brook matter and Kristine Denning of Harwood Lloyd in Hackensack for the Jager matter. None returned calls.
— Michael Booth