MOTOR VEHICLE

$225,000 Settlement in Auto Collision

Anderson v. New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Co., MID-L-7976-12; Middlesex County Superior Court; Jan. 8.

Facts & Allegations: Alexander Anderson claimed he was traveling on Twin Rivers Drive, at Lake Drive East in East Windsor, on Dec. 21, 2009, when hit by a car driven by Maruthi Krosuri, traveling on Lake Drive.

Anderson alleged that he had the right-of-way and that Krosuri disregarded a stop sign.

Anderson went to his family physician for wrist pain and aggravation of a cervical condition, for which he had a cervical laminectomy at levels C4 through C7 in the 1990s.

He treated with a chiropractor for the injuries he tied to the accident. An EMG showed left-side cervical radiculopathy at C7 through C8, irritation of nerve roots, and bilateral carpel tunnel syndrome. An MRI revealed C5-C6 disc herniation. He underwent anterior discectomy and fusion surgery at C5-6, as well as three carpel tunnel injections.

Krosuri’s insurer settled in 2011 for the $50,000 coverage limit, with no suit filed.

A claim was then made against Anderson’s insurer, New Jersey Manufacturers, under his policy’s underinsured-motorist-protection provisions, resulting in a $250,000 arbitration award. After NJM rejected it, Anderson sued NJM over the benefits and a count for bad-faith failure to adjust the claim.

NJM contended that Anderson’s personal-injury claim was barred by the verbal tort threshold; his carpel tunnel condition was unrelated to the accident; and the collision was only partly responsible for his post-crash surgery.

NJM settled for $175,000, giving Anderson a total recovery of $225,000.

Plaintiff Attorney:Edward Rebenack, Rebenack Aronow Mascolo, New Brunswick.

Defense Attorney:John Gentile, McLaughlin & Cooper, Trenton (for New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Co.).

Insurer: Ameriprise Auto & Home Insurance for Krosuri.

Plaintiff Experts: Frank Cimato, D.C., chiropractic, East Windsor; Zinovy Meyler, D.O., pain management, Princeton; Alexander Pendino, D.O., neurology, Moorestown; Nirav K. Shah, M.D., neurosurgery, Princeton.

Defense Experts: Aaron A. Sporn, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Trenton; John Vester, M.D., neurology, Princeton.

This report is based on information from plaintiff counsel. Defense counsel for NJM, and the claims adjuster for Krosuri’s insurer, declined to comment.

MOTOR VEHICLE

$90,000 Liability Verdict in Crash Suit

Rennals v. Francis, BER-L-609-10; Bergen County Superior Court Judge Joseph Conte; Oct. 22.

Facts & Allegations: Chevarlo Rennals claimed he was turning left from Central Avenue onto Grove Street, in Lodi, on Feb. 2, 2008, when hit by the vehicle driven by Jacinth Timol Francis.

He argued that Francis had to have been traveling at an excessive rate of speed.

Rennals was treated for lumbar-disc herniation at L5-S1. Laser surgery was performed to disintegrate portions of the disc deemed to be rubbing on nerves. He still had pain, which his doctor said is permanent.

Rennals sued Francis and the owner of her vehicle, Hugh Francis. Also joined as defendants were insurers for Rennals: State Farm Insurance Co., over personal-injury-protection issues, and State Farm Indemnity Co. over underinsured-motorist-coverage issues.

The issue of interim payment of Rennals’ medical bills was resolved early, and State Farm Insurance was voluntarily dismissed; remaining claims as to that carrier were sent to arbitration.

Francis denied she had been negligent, contending that Rennals was insufficiently cautious before entering the intersection in which Francis had the right of way. The defense also maintained that Rennals’ lumbar-disc herniation was due to a degenerative condition.

The parties agreed to a trial on liability, and the jury found Francis 70 percent negligent, and Rennals 30 percent. The insurer for the Francis vehicle agreed to pay its $50,000 policy limit and State Farm Indemnity $40,000 of the available UIM coverage, resulting in a total recovery for Rennals of $90,000.

Plaintiff Attorney:Aslan Soobzokov, Paterson.

Defense Attorneys:Teresa Kassim, Gregory P. Helfrich & Associates, Summit (for State Farm Indemnity Co.); Carl Mazzie, Foster & Mazzie, Totowa (for State Farm Insurance Co.); Emad Iskaros, Law Office of Walter F. Skrod, Hackensack (for Hugh Francis, Jacinth Timol Francis).

Insurer: GEICO for Timol Francis and Francis.

This report is based on information from plaintiff counsel. Defense counsel declined to comment.

PREMISES LIABILITY

$45,000 Verdict in Suit Against Gym

Brodie v. TSI Freehold d/b/a New York Sports Club and Town Sports International, MON-L-5629-06; Monmouth County Superior Court Judge David Bauman; Oct. 15.

Facts & Allegations: Lawrence Brodie claimed the cable snapped on equipment he was using at the New York Sports Club in Freehold on Dec. 12, 2004, causing him to fall from the machine, land on his left shoulder and experience a sharp pain in it.

Brodie sued the club on a negligence theory of res ipsa loquitur. He contended that the lateral pull-down adjustable weight machine should not have failed and that the failure was the proximate cause of his left shoulder tear.

Surgery was recommended but was delayed for six years because Brodie reportedly was training to become a professional bodybuilder. By then, he allegedly had developed a compensating condition in his right shoulder, for which surgery was recommended. During surgery on his left shoulder, Brodie allegedly developed an ulnar-nerve impingement in his right arm, and open surgery was required. Arthroscopic surgery was also later performed on his left shoulder.

The defense argued that the club had properly maintained its equipment and that it was not self-evident that Brodie’s mishap was the proximate cause of his injury. The defense contested existence of the initial left-shoulder injury and the alleged compensatory right-shoulder condition. The defense alternatively argued that the surgery delay increased the injuries.

It was stipulated that Brodie’s incurred medical costs totaled $45,000.

The jurors found that the defendants’ negligence had been the proximate cause of Brodie’s injuries and that his election to defer the recommended surgery did not constitute a failure to mitigate his damages. The jurors awarded $45,000 in stipulated medical expenses, but no compensatory damages.

Plaintiff Attorney:Eric Landman, Law Office of Herbert I. Ellis, Freehold.

Defense Attorneys:Donald Derrico, Matthew Mahoney, Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker, White Plains, N.Y. (for Town Sports International, TSI Freehold).

Trial Details: trial length: 4 days; jury deliberations: 1.5 hours; jury poll: 6-0.

This report is based on information from plaintiff counsel. Defense counsel declined to comment.

The cases that appear here are derived from VerdictSearch New Jersey, an affiliate of the New Jersey Law Journal. For more reports from VerdictSearch, or to request research, go to VerdictSearch.com or call 1-800-832-1900.