In Phillips v. Klein, a Teaneck woman is to receive $1.63 million as compensation for injuries she sustained in an auto accident.
Plaintiff Lorna Phillips, now 54, agreed to the settlement with the carriers for defendant Juda Klein of Monsey, New York, on Sept. 11, said Phillips’ attorney, James Kimball.
The case settled as trial was set to begin before Bergen County Superior Court Judge Robert Polifroni, said Kimball, of Seigel Law in Ridgewood.
The accident occurred on Nov. 10, 2014, as Phillips was driving on Sagamore Avenue in Teaneck, Kimball said. As she approached the intersection with Belle Avenue, her car was struck by a car driven by Klein, who was alleged in the lawsuit to have ignored a stop sign
As a result of the accident, Phillips sustained injuries to her left shoulder and left hip that required surgery involving arthroscopy and a lumbar spine stimulator transplant, Kimball said.
Klein had coverage provided by three carriers—GEICO, his primary carrier, which will pay $250,000; Federal Insurance Co,, which will pay $1.19 million; and Automobile Insurance Co. of Hartford, which will pay $187,500, Kimball said.
The carriers retained Bilal Jaloudi of the Law Offices of Eric Bennett in Hackensack. He did not return a call about the case.
— Michael Booth
$500K for Sidewalk Fall
Thomas v. 378-392 Washington Street Carwash Inc.: A women who broke her arm during a fall on an uneven sidewalk in Newark settled her Essex County suit for $500,000 on Aug. 31.
On May 2, 2016, Evon Thomas was walking near her home on Washington Street when she tripped over a sidewalk slab that was raised 1-1/4 inches, according to her lawyer, Angelo Catanzariti of Corradino & Papa in Clifton.
Thomas, currently 73, broke her right humerus in three places and underwent an internal fixation procedure, which she claimed led to scarring. The suit also claimed neck injuries that required physical therapy and epidural injections. Catanzariti said Thomas has some lingering pain and limited range of motion.
The suit named the owner of the commercial property adjacent to the sidewalk, 378-392 Washington Street Carwash Inc., claiming the owner negligently failed to fix the dangerous sidewalk. There was significant discovery motion practice, during which litigation over a prior fall at that location was discovered, though the defendant denied knowledge of any such prior falls, according to Catanzariti.
The defense ultimately stipulated liability following arbitration, and the matter was set for trial on damages. It settled on the first day of trial, prior to testimony, Catanzariti said.
The defendant’s counsel, Kalliopi Kousis of Gallo Vitucci Klar in Hackensack, didn’t return a call about the case.
— David Gialanella
Defense Verdict in Ski Resort Case
Carrion v. Mountain Creek Resort, Inc.: A Sussex County jury returned a defense verdict Oct. 17 in a suit by a skier who suffered back injuries after falling at the Mountain Creek Resort in Vernon. Before trial, the plaintiff had sought up to $7 million, according to defense lawyer Samuel McNulty.
Diane Carrion, then 55, an expert skier, was descending on the resort’s steepest trail on Feb. 14, 2013, when she slipped and fell due to an icy condition, then veered off the trial and struck a 5-foot-high metal pipe that was intended to connect to snow-making equipment. She sustained fractures to the sacrum, pelvis and T-8 vertebrae, causing her extreme pain and suffering, the suit said.
Carrion claimed in her suit that the ski resort failed to meet its obligation under the New Jersey Ski Statute to warn skiers of icy conditions on the slopes and trails, and that its failure to remove the pipe violated its duty under the statute to monitor and remove hazards.
The slope where Carrion was injured was closed due to icy conditions on the morning of the accident, but was reopened in the afternoon, McNulty said. Carrion claimed that the ice on the slope was a man-made hazard and that the resort was obligated to protect skiers from it. She also alleged that the resort failed to install padded barriers to protect skiers from the protruding pipe. But the defense maintained that skiers should expect to encounter icy conditions at any ski area in the Northeastern U.S. and that the barriers are not used in expert ski areas because they provide no protection to skiers moving at high speeds, according to McNulty. The defense also argued that warnings about ice were printed on lift tickets at the resort. In addition, according to McNulty, Carrion admitted during a deposition that, shortly before her accident, she saw a sign designating the lift she was using “extreme expert terrain only” and warning, “if you are not an expert skier/rider do not attempt this trail.”
Following 14 days of trial before Superior Court Judge David Weaver, the jury found by a 6-0 vote that Carrion failed to prove that Mountain Creek violated the New Jersey Ski Statute.
McNulty tried the case along with John Gaffney. Both are with Hueston McNulty in Florham Park.
John Scura of Scura, Wigfield, Heyer & Stevens in Wayne, who represented Carrion and her husband, said he intends to appeal the verdict. He said he initially demanded $7 million, but in a final settlement conference with the judge, his demand was $3.25 million.
— Charles Toutant