An Atlantic County jury awarded $1.1 million on June 27 in a wrongful death suit on behalf of a diabetic patient who died from hypoglycemic shock in a nursing home, Magill v. Eastern Pines Convalescent Center.
Mary Stevens, 57, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease, was admitted to Eastern Pines Convalescent Center in Atlantic City in November 2008. Eleven days later, she suffered a hypoglycemic episode and was taken to a hospital, where she died after another 11 days. The suit claims the nursing home failed to properly monitor her blood sugar.
At trial before Superior Court Judge Joseph Kane, the jury found Eastern Pines negligent and in violation of the Nursing Home Residents' Rights Act. The panel awarded $1.1 million in compensatory damages. It also voted 5-3 to award unspecified punitive damages, short of the 7-1 margin required.
The parties stipulated before trial that the home would pay $4,340 in funeral expenses.
On June 28, after the verdict and punitive damages trial, the parties settled for $1.15 million. The home chose to pay that amount instead of the verdict, funeral expenses, fees estimated at $400,000 and $74,000 in prejudgment interest, says its lawyer, Marc Pakrul of Tompkins, McGuire, Wachenfeld & Barry in Newark.
The estate was represented by Thomas Howard of Kirsch Gartenberg Howard and solo Deborah Gough, both of Hackensack.
— By Charles Toutant
$1M Medical-Malpractice Recovery
Williams v. Seaton: A Burlington County judge on June 28 approved a $1 million medical-malpractice settlement for a Lumberton girl with Erb's palsy.
During Kayla Williams' Feb. 12, 2007, birth at Virtua Memorial Hospital in Mount Holly, obstetrician Jennifer Seaton allegedly used too much force to free her right shoulder, which was trapped behind her mother's pubic bone.
The force injured Kayla's brachial plexus nerves, which run from the neck to the arm, resulting in Erb's palsy, says Daryl Zaslow, the lawyer for Kayla's parents, Natasha and Roy Williams.
Botox injections provided temporary easing of spasms and nerve-graft surgery restored some function, but Kayla has limited use of her right arm and a protruding right elbow.
The case settled on May 28 for Seaton's $1 million policy. Most of it will be put in a structure that will reach $1.78 million over Kayla's lifetime, says Zaslow, of Edison's Eichen Crutchlow, Zaslow & McElroy.
Superior Court Judge Charles Little approved the settlement after a friendly hearing.
Defense counsel Charles Koernig, of Stahl & DeLaurentis in Voorhees, was on vacation last week and could not be reached for comment.
— By Mary Pat Gallagher
$1M for Workplace Fall
Diaz v. Callaway Construction: A former masonry worker accepted $1.027 million to settle his suit over injuries suffered in a fall from a scaffolding.
The scaffolding had been erected on Sept. 22, 2008, by plaintiff Jose Diaz and his employer, Hard Rock Builders of Newark, on the roof of a rowhouse next to one under renovation. Diaz fell onto the roof and then to the ground.
Diaz suffered thoracic fractures requiring fusion surgery, head injuries, broken shoulders and right-knee injuries requiring reconstruction, says his lawyer, Michael Carton of Woodbridge's Kroll Heineman Carton. Now 36, he has been declared 100 percent disabled.
Diaz claimed general contractor Callaway Construction Co. of Hoboken did not ensure a safe environment. Diaz also sued the owner of the home on which the scaffolding was built, Luz Ramirez, alleging she knew it was dangerous but did not stop the work.
Callaway's carrier, Tower Group Cos., settled on April 15 after arbitration with retired Superior Court Judge Eugene Codey of Connell Foley in Roseland. It paid $952,000. Tower Group's lawyer was John Sullivan of Morristown's McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter.
Ramirez's carrier, High Point Preferred Ins. Co., did not participate in the arbitration but agreed on June 13 to pay $75,000, which it did on Tuesday. High Point retained Edward Davis, of Debra Hart's firm in Morganville.
Diaz's award will be offset by a $180,000 workers' compensation lien.
— By Michael Booth
$850,000 in Child's Drowning
Salib v. Skyview Manor Motel: The family of a girl who drowned in a motel pool accepted a $850,000 settlement of their wrongful death suit.
In July 2011, Sara Salib, 9, was swimming with her mother and two siblings at the crowded outdoor pool at Skyview Manor Motel in Seaside Heights when she was found unresponsive in the water. It was unclear how she drowned, but there was no evidence she had hit her head, says the family's lawyer, Anthony Fiore of Gage Fiore in Florham Park.
The family claimed the motel negligently maintained the pool by failing to mark off deeper sections with rope and by allowing large rafts and other inflatable devices to obstruct views.
On May 29, the parties settled during mediation with retired Middlesex County Superior Court Judge Mark Epstein of Hoagland, Longo, Moran, Dunst & Doukas in New Brunswick.
Skyview was insured by RSUI Group. Skyview's lawyer, John Scott of Hardin, Kundla, McKeon & Poletto in Springfield, did not return a call.
— By David Gialanella