A worker allegedly injured in a fall from a roof at a construction site accepted $2.16 million to settle his Middlesex County suit, Gonzalez v. Skender Meka.
Adolfo Gonzalez slipped and fell 15 to 30 feet to the ground on Dec. 18, 2007, while working at a commercial development in Nutley. He suffered a fractured skull, broken facial bones and a broken left wrist and dislocated his left shoulder. Now 48, he has brain damage and physical impairments that have left him unable to work, says his lawyer Gerald Clark.
Gonzalez claimed that he was given no harness or other fall-prevention equipment and that he had no harness. He alleged unsafe working conditions and violations of federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration rules.
Skender Meka of North Caldwell — the principal behind developer Eagleland Consultants and general contractor Eagleland Construction — owned the development. For the interior work, Eagleland Construction hired New Jersey Siding Inc., which in turn hired Gonzalez’s employer, A&A Construction Inc., to do the roofing.
New Jersey Siding’s carrier, Utica Insurance Co., settled for $900,000 in December 2011.
After a conference with Assignment Judge Travis Francis, the carriers for Eagleland Construction and Eagleland Consultants — Essex Insurance Co. and Lloyds of London, respectively — agreed on Sept. 3 to pay $1.26 million.
Clark, who handled the case with Sarah Delahant from his West Long Branch firm, declines to say how much each paid.
The final payment was received on Oct. 19. The award was offset by a $394,286 workers’ compensation lien.
Essex retained Erik Anderson, of Reardon Anderson in Tinton Falls, while Lloyds retained George McCool, of Wright & O’Donnell in Iselin. Both were unavailable for comment.
— By Michael Booth
$1.875M in Fatal Collision
Aslam v. Richardson: The family of a 51-year-old man killed when his car was rear-ended by a tractor-trailer agreed to a $1.875 million settlement on Oct. 22.
According to the family’s lawyer, Matthew Mendelsohn, Chandrapith Vatsyayana was driving his Toyota Matrix south on the New Jersey Turnpike in Burlington County on April 5, 2011. The road ahead was blocked by traffic due to a prior accident. Vatsyayana had moved to the right lane and was stopped when Michael Richardson, driving an 18-wheeler owned by Central Jersey Waste & Recycling of Ewing, slammed into his car, says Mendelsohn, of Mazie Slater Katz & Freeman in Roseland.
There were signs warning of the stopped traffic and the need to slow down. Richardson admitted he was following too closely and there was no indication he braked before the crash, says Mendelsohn, whose co-counsel was partner David Mazie.
Vatsyayana was allegedly still breathing but unconscious when first responders arrived but died before they could remove him from the wreck.
Aliya Aslam, Vatsyayana’s widow and administratrix, sued Richardson and Central Jersey in federal court in Trenton. The case was resolved at a settlement conference with U.S. Magistrate Judge Lois Goodman.
Defense lawyer Robert Borrelle Sr., of Dempster & Haddix in Mount Laurel, could not be reached for comment.
— By Mary Pat Gallagher
$1.8M in Temporary-Taking Suit
Pacilli Homes v. Pilesgrove Township: A developer claiming municipal authorities illegally thwarted a project in Pilesgrove Township settled his Salem County suit for $1.8 million.
In 2004, the planning board preliminarily approved a 21-home residential subdivision by Robert J. Pacilli Homes of Mullica Hill, says plaintiff lawyer William Ziegler of Holston, McDonald, Uzdavinis, Ziegler & Lodge in Woodbury, and the township’s lawyer, West Berlin solo George Botcheos. The approval contained documents governing storm water management issues, to be handled by a homeowners’ association.
The township attorney at the time, William Horner,rejected the documents and drafted his own. He and the plaintiff were unable to agree on terms, and Horner directed the township engineer to issue a stop-work order.
Pacilli Homes filed an action in lieu of prerogative writs in 2005, contending that the failure to give final approval was arbitrary and unreasonable. The suit asserted temporary taking of property and civil rights claims.
Superior Court Judge Georgia Curio invalidated the stop-work order. The Appellate Division affirmed.
The matter was transferred to Judge Richard Hoffman, who granted Pacilli Homes’ motion for summary judgment on the temporary-taking claim in December 2011.
The parties settled on June 18.
The township and Municipal Excess Liability Fund are responsible for the settlement.
Pilesgrove Township attorney Michael Mulligan, a Carneys Point solo, also represented the township. He did not return a call.
— By David Gialanella
$1.03M in Medical-Malpractice Suit
Estate of Green v. Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital:The family of a woman whose death was allegedly caused by open-heart surgery complications accepted $1.03 million on Oct. 17.
Dorothy Green, 49, underwent an angioplasty at Somerset Medical Center in Somerville on June 28, 2007. The hospital wasn’t authorized to perform it, but Green’s was allowed under a study that required the hospital to transfer patients to another facility within an hour if complications developed.
Dr. Jeffrey Taylor started operating on Green but realized her blockage was worse than he thought. Somerset had arranged to transfer patients to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick in those cases, but the plaintiffs complained that the on-call cardiologist there, Marc Anderson, did not respond to their calls.
Ultimately, Green was transferred to St. Michael’s Medical Center in Newark, and had bypass surgery two and a half hours after the complication developed, but she went into a coma and died on Aug. 1, 2007.
The plaintiffs claimed that Anderson failed to respond to calls and pages, though he said he did not receive them, and that Taylor negligently performed the angioplasty while Green had pneumonia, and failed to contact a second on-call doctor.
They further alleged that Somerset negligently failed to reach the first or second on-call doctor, and that Robert Wood Johnson negligently failed to provide accurate contact information for on-call doctors.
The settlement was reached after six days of trial. Taylor will pay $725,000; Anderson’s employer, the University of Medicine and Dentistry, $35,000; Somerset $230,000; and Robert Wood Johnson $40,000.
Middlesex County Superior Court Judge Heidi Currier presided.
Bruce Nagel, Barry Packin and Greg Cohn of Nagel Rice in Roseland represented the estate.
Taylor was represented by Parsippany solo Jeffrey Krompier and Anderson by Louis Ruprecht of Ruprecht, Hart, Weeks & Ricciardulli in Westfield. Phones were not in service Thursday at their offices and Ruprecht did not respond to an email. Raymond Fleming of Sachs, Maitlin, Fleming & Green in West Orange represented Somerset and Manasquan solo Joseph DiCroce represented Robert Wood Johnson. They did not return calls.
— By Charles Toutant