dollar bills Natalia Merzlyakova – Fotolia

A husband and wife who suffered back and neck injuries in a collision with a dump truck agreed to a $1.5 million settlement in their Monmouth County suit, Megill v. Muscari, on Nov. 2.

Douglas and Catherine Megill were driving on Belmar Boulevard where it meets Route 34 in Wall on Oct. 16, 2015, when a dump truck headed north on Route 34 rear-ended another car that was stopped at a red light. The dump truck continued into the intersection, striking the passenger side of the Megill vehicle. The impact caused the Megills’ car to strike a fourth vehicle, the suit claimed.

Catherine Megill sustained orthopedic injuries to her neck and lower back, including multiple disc herniations, and required lumbar and cervical discectomy, said their lawyer, Norman Hobbie. She also had a labral tear of the left shoulder, necessitating arthroscopic surgery, and was left with cognitive dysfunction and related orthopedic sprains and strains, Hobbie said.

Douglas Megill sustained orthopedic injuries to his neck, and mid- and lower back, requiring multiple pain-management procedures. He also was diagnosed with post-concussive syndrome and cognitive dysfunction, Hobbie said.

The Megills filed suit against the driver of the dump truck, Vincent Muscari; his employer, DRGT Stables; and the dump truck owner, NYNJ Contractors Corp. They also sued a group of related entities—the Earle Companies, Walter R. Earle Corp.,  Walter R. Earle Transit, Earle Transit, Walter Earle Asphalt, Earle Asphalt Corp., and Pure Soil. The dump truck that struck the plaintiffs was hauling cargo while under contract to the Earle Companies at the time of the accident, said Hobbie, of Hobbie, Corrigan & Bertucio in Eatontown.

The settlement was reached after mediation with Thomas O’Brien, a former Superior Court judge now with Bathgate, Wegener & Wolf in Lakewood.

The settlement calls for DRGT and NYNJ Contractors to pay $725,334.75 toward the settlement, and for the Earle Companies to pay the remaining $774,665.25.

Joseph Cobuzio of Tompkins, McGuire, Wachenfeld & Barry in Roseland represented DRGT and NYNJ Contractors. His office said he is out of the country and could not be reached.

Patrick Brennan of William Staehle‘s firm in Marlton represented the Earle defendants. He did not return a call about the case.

— Charles Toutant

$1M in Passaic Motorcyle Case

DeVries v. Daniels: A motorcyclist involved in a crash with a vehicle that he claimed turned in front of him settled his Passaic County suit for $1 million on Sept. 28.

On July 3, 2016, Jacob DeVries, then 30, was riding northbound on High Crest Drive in West Milford when a motorist coming from the opposite direction, Sheldon Daniels, attempted to turn left in front of DeVries, onto Macopin Terrace, according to DeVries’ lawyer, Parsippany solo Edward Lutz.

DeVries struck Daniels’ vehicle, and was thrown over the handlebars of his motorcycle, causing a torn rotator cuff and tendon damage in his left shoulder, a left elbow injury that led to nerve entrapment, and a spinal injury that led to a pain condition, his suit claimed. DeVries underwent surgery to his injured shoulder and elbow, but is permanently disabled and cannot lift more than 20 pounds, Lutz said.

DeVries, who previously had ascended to the position of maintenance supervisor at a nursing home, was out of work for nine months and ultimately terminated when his lifting restriction prevented him from performing his job, according to Lutz, who noted that DeVries has since taken a lower-paying job as a car valet at an auto dealership.

The defense disputed DeVries’ version of the facts, but witnesses ultimately confirmed his version, Lutz said. The case was set for trial on Oct. 9, but settled two weeks before, after a conference with Superior Court Judge Thomas Brogan.

Daniels was insured by State Farm and represented by Anthony Coppola of Gregory P. Helfrich & Associates in Summit. Coppola didn’t return a call seeking comment.

— David Gialanella

$600K Med Mal Verdict

Rodriguez v. Swaminathan: A Middlesex County jury awarded a Perth Amboy man $600,000 as compensation for nerve injuries he sustained during a neck operation.

The jury awarded the funds to plaintiff Daniel Rodriguez, now 46, on Oct. 23 after finding the  defendant, Dr. Anangur Swaminathan, liable for Rodriguez’s injuries, according to Rodriguez’s attorney Adam Rothenberg.

Rodriguez was injured on June 23, 2014, when he underwent surgery to have a fatty lipoma removed from his neck by Swaminathan, then with Comprehensive Surgical Associates of Edison, said Rothenberg, of the Edison office of Levinson Axelrod.

The lawsuit alleged that Swaminathan failed to properly protect the spinal accessory nerve, and damaged it during the surgery, Rothenberg said.

Rodriguez’s right dominant arm and shoulder were affected, and he now has use restrictions, Rothenberg said.

Swaminathan took the position at trial that the injury occurred in the normal course of the operation and not because of a deviation from the standard of care.

Superior Court Michael Cresitello Jr. presided over the trial.

Swaminathan’s carrier, Coverys, retained Samuel Rosenberg of Rosenberg Jacobs Heller & Fleming to represent Swaminathan. Rosenberg did not return a call about the case.

— Michael Booth