A Passaic County judge approved a $14.5 million settlement Wednesday to a Little League player left brain-damaged by a ball hit with an aluminum bat.

Steven Domalewski, then 12, of Wayne, was pitching in a 2006 youth baseball game when a line drive struck him in the chest. He went into cardiac arrest and stopped breathing, and his brain was deprived of oxygen for 15 to 20 minutes before he was resuscitated. Now 19, he is nearly blind, his speech is impaired and he is confined to a wheelchair.

The batter was using a Louisville Slugger TPX Platinum aluminum bat, model YB504, made by Hillerich and Bradsby Co. of Louisville, Ky.

Domalewski’s parents’ product-liability suit named Hillerich and Bradsby; the Wayne Police Athletic League, which sponsored the game; and Little League Inc., whose performance standards deemed the bat suitable for youth baseball. Metal bats are known to propel the ball at greater speed and force than wooden bats.

The suit, Domalewski v. Hillerich and Bradsby Co., claimed the bat posed an unreasonable risk of harm. The plaintiffs made claims for defective design, failure to warn, breach of implied or express warrant of merchantability and bystander trauma on behalf of Domalewski’s father.

The Wayne PAL was dismissed on charitable immunity grounds in July, says its attorney, Paul Clark of Wade Clark Mulcahy in Mountainside.

Little League and Hillerich and Bradsby are parties to the settlement, approved by Judge Garry Rothstadt at a friendly hearing.

The judge’s order did not disclose each defendant’s share; lawyers say the breakdown was confidential.

Domalewski and his family were represented by Ernest Fronzuto of Wellinghorst & Fronzuto in Woodland Park. The Little League’s lawyer, James Orr of Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker in Florham Park, declines comment. Hillerich and Bradsby’s lawyer, Gary Potters of Potters & Della Peitra in Fairfield, did not return a call.

— By Charles Toutant


Matthew Peluso

$3.81M in Age-Bias Suit

Brown v. Passaic County: Six Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office investigators terminated from their jobs won a $3.81 million jury verdict in their age-discrimination suit.

The plaintiffs, most with the office for 20 years or more, were among about three dozen employees dismissed in 2008 amid budget cuts, says their lawyer, Princeton solo Matthew Peluso.

They asserted claims against Prosecutor James Avigliano and the county under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, alleging they were terminated because of age and their higher pay. They also contended that younger employees were favored because they were politically aligned with Avigliano.

On July 11, the jury awarded $2.76 million in compensatory damages for past and future lost wages: Frank Santoro, now 46, received $972,000; Robert Mulick, 53, $545,600; Selina Brown, 52, $470,000; Ray Cassetta, 57, $299,000; Mike Tynio, 58, $244,000; and Joseph Phillips, 68, $232,000. The jury awarded another $1.05 million in punitive damages, averaging $175,000 for each plaintiff.

Passaic County Superior Court Judge Anthony Graziano presided at the trial.

Defense attorney Peter Berk of Genova Burns Giantomasi & Webster in Newark did not return a call.

— By David Gialanella


Carol Forte

$1.94M in Medical Malpractice Suit

Salomon v. Lee: A medical malpractice suit over the death of an 11-year-old boy from an adverse drug reaction settled for $1.94 million on Aug. 1.

Psychiatrist Seung Ho Lee and Ephatha Mental Health Associates in Ridgefield will pay the estate of Joshua Salomon and his parents, Jacqueline and Carlos, formerly of Lodi, now in Queen Creek, Ariz.

On May 21, 2009, Lee prescribed Lamictal, which is used to treat epilepsy and mood disorders, to Joshua who had behavioral and emotional problems associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder, says the family’s lawyer, Carol Forte.

Joshua developed a rash and went to the emergency room at Hackensack University Medical Center on June 2. His primary care physician sent him to a dermatologist, who took him off the drug, suspecting Stevens-Johnson syndrome, an extreme allergic reaction that affects the skin and eyes.

After a second dermatologist agreed with the diagnosis, Joshua was admitted to the hospital on June 5 for treatment.

He suffered blisters, skin sloughing, burns, breathing problems, cardiac arrest, thrombosis and excruciating pain and underwent eye surgery by the time he died at Cornell Medical Center in New York on June 13, says Forte, of Blume Goldfaden Berkowitz Donnelly Fried & Forte in Chatham.

She says Lamictal is not approved for children and Stevens-Johnson is a known side effect. There was also a lack of informed consent because Lee did not warn of the risk, she adds.

The suit, filed in Bergen County Superior Court, settled for most of the available $2 million in coverage.

Defense lawyer Louis Ruprecht, of Ruprecht Hart Weeks & Ricciardulli in Westfield, did not return a call.

— By Mary Pat Gallagher

$425,000 for Auto-Accident Injuries

Martins v. Bond: A man who suffered back injuries in a rear-end collision settled his Morris County suit for $425,000.

Virgilio Martins claimed that on Nov. 3, 2008, he was hit from behind as he slowed down in response to the decreasing speed of the car in front of him on Route 80 in Morris County.

Martins was diagnosed with a herniated disc at L5-S1 and, in early 2010, underwent lumbar fusion and orthoscopic surgery.

Martins asserted he missed three months of work as a forklift operator and another five after his surgery, and was forced to work a less physically demanding job as a result of his injuries. He also claimed he continues to have back pain and stiffness, which make it difficult for him to go about his typical daily activities.

He sued Brian Bond Jr., the driver of the other car, claiming negligence. Also named was Martins’ carrier, Allstate.

Bond did not contest liability, and the case moved forward on damages only.

The defense was prepared to argue that Martins had a prior back surgery and lumbar fusion, and that the injuries complained of were not caused by the accident, according to the plaintiff attorney, Ronald Dario of Dario, Yacker, Suarez & Albert in Fort Lee.

Martins’ case against Bond settled for $425,000 on May 29. At the time of the accident, Bond had a $250,000 primary policy with GEICO and an excess policy with Farm Family of up to $1 million.

Martins’ personal-injury-protection claim against his insurer concluded separately, on undisclosed terms.

— By Gary Raynaldo (VerdictSearch)