PREMISES LIABILITY

$425,000 Mediated Settlement in Fall

Chambers v. Palace Nursing Home and SES Lawn and Landscape LLC, BUR-L-3810-10; Burlington County Superior Court; Judge Marc Baldwin; Feb. 11.

Facts & Allegations: On Feb. 12, 2010, Maryann Chambers allegedly fell after slipping on black ice as she left the Palace Nursing Home in Maple Shade, where she was visiting her adult son, a patient there.

Chambers was taken by ambulance to a local hospital, where she was diagnosed with a wrist fracture of the left distal radius. She underwent an open reduction of that fracture, carpal tunnel surgery and arthroscopic surgery for a knee injury. She eventually underwent lumbar discectomy and decompression on account of what she called a serious aggravation of a lower-back injury.

She sued the nursing home and SES Lawn and Landscape LLC, with which the nursing home had a snow-removal maintenance contract. She alleged that the defendants had allowed a dangerous condition to exist near the entranceway.

Chambers had testified at a deposition that when she was brought back inside the nursing home facility after suffering her injuries, another visitor stated that he had slipped and fallen at the entranceway about 20 minutes earlier.

The landscape company achieved a summary judgment dismissal. The nursing home argued it had had no notice of the alleged dangerous condition, and did not breach any duty owed to Chambers.

Resolution of the case focused largely on the claim of lower-back injury. The defense argued that Chambers’ back was already seriously compromised by a previous injury.

The case settled for $425,000 after mediation before retired Superior Court Judge Neil Shuster, now with Dennigan Cahill Smith in Princeton.

Plaintiff Attorney:Elizabeth Berenato, Smith Magram Berenato Michaud, Burlington.

Defense Attorneys:Richard Barth, Dempster & Haddix, Mount Laurel (for Palace Nursing Home); David Bloch, Farber Brocks & Zane, Garden City, N.Y. (for SES Lawn and Landscape LLC).

Insurer: Chartis for Palace Nursing Home.

Plaintiff Experts: Luis Cervantes, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Moorestown; Mark Rekant, M.D., hand surgery, Philadelphia; Joseph Farrell, D.O., orthopedic surgery, Lumberton.

Defense Expert: Gregory Maslow, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Woodbury Heights.

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

MOTOR VEHICLE

$244,000 Verdict for Pedestrian’s Injuries

Ungarian v. Jacobson, PAS-L-3375-10; Passaic County Superior Court; Judge Anthony Graziano; Jan. 22.

Facts & Allegations: Teresita Ungarian claimed that while walking along a crosswalk on River Street in Hackensack on July 8, 2008, she was struck by a vehicle operated by Myra Jacobson.

Ungarian sued Jacobson, alleging she had been negligent and failed to yield to pedestrian traffic. Jacobson did not actively dispute liability.

Ungarian allegedly lost consciousness and was taken by ambulance to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with a torn rotator cuff in her left shoulder, torn meniscus in her right knee and disc herniations in her lower back.

She underwent a surgical repair of her left shoulder and arthroscopic right-knee surgery and claimed she will need right-wrist surgery.

Ungarian claimed she is now prone to blackouts; has nagging pain and discomfort in her lower back, left shoulder, right knee and right wrist; has not returned to work and is severely limited in her ability to perform typical household chores.

The defense argued that Ungarian did not suffered serious injury and that her complaints were from degenerative conditions.

The jury found Jacobson 100 percent at fault and awarded Ungarian $244,000 in damages.

Plaintiff Attorney: Angela Roper, Roper & Twardowsky, Totowa.

Defense Attorney:Floyd Lombardi, De Sevo & Lombardi, Jersey City.

Demand: $1 million.

Offer: $350,000.

Insurer: Encompass Insurance Co.

Trial Details: trial length: 9 days; jury deliberations: 2 hours; jury poll: 8-0.

Plaintiff Experts: Sammy Masri, M.D., pain management, Paramus; Roberto Sozzi, M.D., psychiatry, Clifton; Nabil Yazgi, M.D., neurology, Wayne.

Defense Experts: Irwin Cohen, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Wayne; Eric Fremed, M.D., neurology, Englewood Cliffs; David Gallina, M.D., psychiatry, Wyckoff.

This report is based on information from defense counsel. Plaintiff counsel did not return calls.

MOTOR VEHICLE

Defense Verdict in Rear-End Collision

Paek v. Davis, MID-L-8370-10; Middlesex County Superior Court; Judge Arthur Bergman; Jan. 17.

Facts & Allegations: Sun Cho Paek was traveling on Oak Tree Road in Edison on Jan. 8, 2010, when she was struck from behind by a car driven by Michelle Davis, with the permissive use of Alan Davis.

The Davis vehicle then was struck from behind by a car driven by Reena Parikh, with the permissive use of Keyur Parikh.

Paek claimed the accident caused a herniated disc, a torn meniscus and a torn shoulder labrum, and that the injuries satisfied the verbal tort threshold. She underwent epidural and facet injections to her spine.

Paek sued the Davises for negligence, alleging she was hit while trying to turn right into a parking lot.

Davis alleged that before the collision, Paek had been driving in the right-hand lane with her right-turn signal activated for a protracted period and was traveling significantly slower than the posted speed limit. As she passed the lot, according to Davis, Paek abruptly stopped before trying to turn right, causing the Davis vehicle to strike Paek’s.

The defense maintained that Paek’s injuries were the result of gradual degenerative processes.

The jury placed 20 percent of liability with Paek and 80 percent with Davis. But the jurors further concluded that Paek did not prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the accident had caused her to suffer permanent bodily injury sufficiently, so a defense verdict was recorded.

Plaintiff Attorney:Robert Heck, Elizabeth.

Defense Attorneys:Jeffrey Czuba, Hoagland, Longo, Moran, Dunst & Doukas, New Brunswick (for Alan Davis, Michelle Davis); Christopher McKenna, Smith Mazure Director Wilkins Young & Yagerman, Somerville (for Keyur Parikh, Reena Parikh).

Trial Details: trial length: 3 days; jury deliberations: 30 minutes; jury poll: 8-0; jury composition: 4 males, 4 females.

Plaintiff Expert: Chang H. Kang, M.D., pain management, Englewood Cliffs.

Defense Expert: Steven H. Fried, M.D., orthopedic surgery, New Brunswick.

This report is based on information from defense counsel. Plaintiff counsel did not return calls.

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.