A contractor allegedly left paralyzed after falling off a ladder while repairing a chimney accepted $1.25 million on March 7 to settle his Somerset County suit, Bullman v. Goldie.
The accident occurred on June 13, 2011, at the home of Paul Goldie in Basking Ridge. According to the suit, plaintiff William Bullman fell to the ground when he was startled by a bat flying out of a gap between the chimney and the house.
The house was later found to have a bat infestation in the attic, and Bullman’s lawyers, Kevin Parsons of Gill & Chamas in Woodbridge and Howard Crane of Koerner & Crane in Hillsborough, say Goldie knew about it and should have told Bullman.
They say the defense claimed Goldie was not aware of the infestation before the accident. His lawyer, Michael Della Rovere of Whippany’s O’Toole & Couch, did not return a call.
Bullman allegedly suffered a spinal fracture at L1 that rendered him a paraplegic below the waist. Now 56, he suffers from deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary disease and bedsores and requires a wheelchair, his lawyers say.
Goldie had a $1.3 million homeowner’s policy with State Farm Ins. Co.
— By Charles Toutant
$750,000 in Medical Malpractice Suit
Trujillo v. Jean-Baptiste: The daughter of a woman who died after going into septic shock following gastric bypass surgery accepted $750,000 on March 7 to settle her Middlesex County suit.
On Aug. 27, 2008, Dr. Demesvar Jean-Baptiste operated on Pamela Trujillo at John F. Kennedy Medical Center in Edison. She returned to the hospital on Sept. 6, complaining of severe stomach pain — a possible sign of sutures leaking toxic fluids.
Jean-Baptiste did not perform corrective surgery until the next day, by which time Trujillo developed septic poisoning and slipped into a coma. She died on Sept. 12, 2008, at age 46.
Melissa Trujillo, her daughter and administrator, brought the wrongful death suit, represented by Walter Lesnevich, of Lesnevich & Marzano-Lesnevich in Hackensack.
The case settled in mediation with retired Judge Daniel Mecca, of Joseph Mecca Jr.’s law office in Paramus.
The self-insured hospital retained Gary Riveles, of Cranford’s Dughi, Hewit & Domalewski, who did not return a call. Attempts to locate Jean-Baptiste were unsuccessful.
— By Michael Booth
$675,000 for Fall Injuries
McNeill v. AJD Construction Co.: A carpenter allegedly injured in a fall from scaffolding accepted $675,000 on March 1 in his Hudson County suit.
Francis McNeill was doing masonry work at a garage in Harrison, standing on a two-plank-wide scaffold with no railing, when he fell on June 22, 2009, says his lawyer, Paul Caliendo of Gill & Chamas in Woodbridge.
McNeill said he tried to add a third plank but a worker allegedly with general contractor AJD Construction Co., of Leonardo, removed it. McNeill said he didn’t use rails because the lack of a third plank would have left a gap.
McNeill broke both his wrists, requiring open reduction surgery with plates and screws inserted, among other procedures, Caliendo says, adding that the fall caused carpal tunnel syndrome and that McNeill still has pain and reduced range of motion.
McNeill was employed by Innovative Masonry of Budd Lake and doing work for subcontractor Best Construction Inc. of Newark. By the terms of the settlement, AJD, Best and Innovative, a third-party defendant under an indemnification agreement with Best, are each paying one-third, Caliendo says.
The case settled in mediation with retired Judge Eugene Codey, now with Connell Foley in Roseland.
AJD lawyer John Scott, of Hardin Kundla McKeon& Poletto in Springfield, did not return a call. Best lawyer Jonathan Robinson, of Terkowitz & Hermesmann in Somerset, house counsel to Hanover Insurance Group, and Innovative attorney Albert Lisbona,of Dwyer, Connell & Lisbona in Fairfield, were out of town and could not be reached.
— By Mary Pat Gallagher
No Cause in Suit Over Bar Brawl
Cicchino v. Pirog: A Middlesex County jury on March 1 found a bar patron who claimed injury in a fistfight had no cause of action, but he will recover $75,000 through a high-low agreement and a settlement with the establishment.
On March 25, 2008, a scuffle broke out at the Race Zone Bar and Grill in Old Bridge. Three staff members separated combatants Danny Cicchino and Stephen Pirog and ordered them to leave.
Cicchino alleged in the suit that Pirog, instead of leaving, waited for him outside the bar and punched him, causing him to fall backward and strike his head on the pavement.
Pirog contended that Cicchino, who was intoxicated, attacked him outside the bar and that he hit Cicchino in self-defense, according to Pirog’s attorney, Miriam Rubin, who heads a firm in New Brunswick.
Cicchino claimed his injury brought about a seizure disorder and aggravated cognitive issues from a prior injury.
As trial was set to begin before Superior Court Judge Arthur Bergman, Cicchino and Pirog entered a $300,000-$40,000 high-low agreement. The no-cause finding triggered the low.
Cicchino also sued Race Zone, alleging negligent security and a dram-shop claim because the two were ejected together, staff didn’t call police and no security was present.
During jury selection, Race Zone settled for $35,000.
The lawyer for Cicchino, Spring Lake solo Roy Curnow, and the lawyer for Race Zone, Terrence Bolan of Bolan Jahnsen Dacey of Shrewsbury, confirm the outcome.
— By David Gialanella