Surgery - Credit: Squaredpixels/iStockphoto.com Credit: Squaredpixels/iStockphoto.com

A woman rendered paralyzed during a 2015 back surgery was paid a $5 million settlement in her Middlesex County medical malpractice suit, Doglio v. Rutgers Medical School, on May 6.

The settlement, reached Feb. 8 on the eve of trial, was paid by the state to resolve claims against the neurosurgeon who performed the surgery and his employer, Rutgers Medical School.

According to electronic court documents and an attorney in the case, on Jan. 28, 2015, plaintiff Jaime A. Doglio, then 39, underwent a laminectomy at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick. The surgery was to treat mid- and lower-back pain and numbness, said her lawyer, Michael F. Lombardi of Lombardi & Lombardi in Edison.

Doglio awoke in the recovery room paralyzed from the mid-back down, and it was revealed that during the surgery, she sustained an injury to the spinal cord at the thoracic level. She now uses a wheelchair full time, has a permanent catheter, and requires around-the-clock care, Lombardi said.

The suit, filed in October 2015, according to the record, claimed that defendant Michael Nosko, chief of neurosurgery for Rutgers Medical School, acted negligently. The suit claimed Nosko failed to sufficiently monitor Doglio during the surgery and contended that a laminectomy is rarely performed at the thoracic level because of the risks of complications, according to Lombardi, who handled the case along with Nicole M. Lombardi of the same firm.

Doglio’s husband, Stephen A. Doglio, asserted a per quod claim.

The defense denied liability on Nosko’s part and contended that Doglio’s injury was a complication of the surgery, according to Lombardi.

Nosko, Rutgers Medical School and the plaintiffs settled during a Feb. 8 conference with Middlesex County Superior Court Judge Michael Cresitello Jr. The suit was to go to trial on Feb. 25, documents noted.

A dismissal order signed by both sides was entered on Feb. 8 and signed by Cresitello.

Robert Evers of Marshall, Dennehey, Warner, Coleman & Goggin in Roseland, who represented the defendants, didn’t return a call about the settlement.

— David Gialanella

$1.5M Auto Verdict in Hudson

Carmon v. Harmon: A Hudson County jury awarded $1.5 million on April 25 to a man who suffered back injuries in a three-car crash. The total award exceeded $2 million after post-verdict motions related to the Offer of Judgment Rule.

Laron Carmon was driving on Springfield Avenue in Newark on July 26, 2015, when his car was struck on the left front corner by an oncoming vehicle driven by Kianah Barber and owned by Dorianne Barber. The Barber vehicle had been rear-ended by another driven by Phillip Jarmon and owned by Roger Mitchell, pushing it into Carmon’s car.

Following the crash, Carmon suffered back pain and was treated with pain medication, chiropractic treatment and an epidural injection, said his lawyer, Marvin Walden of Greenberg, Walden and Grossman in West New York.

A medical expert for the defense examined an MRI film of Carmon’s back from after the crash, and he found a herniation with nerve impingement but did not offer an opinion on permanency or causation of the injury, according to Walden.

Three medical experts for the plaintiff who viewed the post-crash MRI of Carmon’s back all determined that it showed herniations and permanency, Walden said.

Carmon filed suit against Jarmon. Mitchell and the Barbers were also named as defendants but were voluntarily dismissed from the case.

An arbitrator awarded Carmon $40,000, but Jarmon rejected the award. In January, Walden filed a $35,000 offer of judgment. In April, on the first day of trial, Walden said, he agreed to accept $30,000, but the defendant offered only $7,000.

At trial on permanency and damages, Judge Mary Costello of Hudson County Superior Court entered a directed verdict for the plaintiff on permanency. After four days of trial and 25 minutes of deliberation, the jury awarded $1.5 million to Carmon.

Because the jury award was greater than $42,000, or 120 percent of the offer of judgment. Carmon was awarded enhanced prejudgment interest of $62,136 for the period from the filing of the complaint up to the day the offer of judgment was filed; $36,493 in enhanced interest from the filing of the offer up to the day of the verdict; and attorney fees of $475,000, which brought Carmon’s recovery to $2.08 million, Walden said. The award is memorialized in a May 13 court order.

Jarmon’s lawyer, Michael Palma of Viscomi & Lyons in Morristown, described the verdict as “unjustified” and said he intended to file an appeal.

— Charles Toutant

$637,500 Settlement in Ocean

Pimentel v. Magnabousco: A 61-year old Brick Township woman who suffered multiple injuries in a two-car accident agreed to a $637,500 settlement in her Ocean County suit on April 29.

Plaintiff Maria J. Pimentel, 56 at the time of the accident, was driving a 2014, black Volvo XC60 just after 3 p.m. on Nov. 4, 2014, when she stopped on the exit ramp on Route 33 westbound in Tinton Falls, waiting to merge onto Route 33 eastbound. While she waited to merge, she was struck from behind by a 2012, black Ford F-250 pickup truck operated by defendant John Magnabousco of Manasquan, according to a police report.

The truck that Magnabousco was driving belonged to Monmouth Truck Acquisition LLC. He was working as a sales representative for Monmouth Truck when the accident occurred, according to the police report.

Magnabousco and Monmouth Truck Acquisition LLC were insured by Liberty Mutual and represented by Denise Tunney of the Law Offices of Styliades and Jackson in Mount Laurel.

Tunney did not return a call for comment.

Following the accident, Pimentel, was transported by ambulance to Jersey Shore University Medical Center.

Pimentel sustained disc herniations, a rotator cuff tear, and labral tear of the right shoulder from the collision, according to her attorney, James Maggs of Maggs & McDermott in Wall.

The police report listed Magnabousco as suffering no injuries.

Pimentel’s initial conservative treatment for her injuries, according to Maggs, included physical therapy, sacroiliac joint injections, and right shoulder cortisone injections. She later underwent a lumbar laminectomy and decompression, an arthroscopic rotator cuff tendon repair, and decompression of the right shoulder, Maggs said.

Pimentel’s expert medical witness, Dr. Robert Dennis, an orthopedic surgeon in Neptune, opined that she would require additional medical treatment for her injuries, including a two-level cervical anterior discectomy and fusion, during his testimony.

Maggs said by email, “Ms. Pimentel continues to suffer with lumbar radiculopathy following her surgery, as well as significant cervical pain.”

Maggs confirmed Liberty Mutual covered the entire settlement.

The case was before Ocean County Superior Court Judge James Den Uyl.

— Suzette Parmley