The family of a man alleged to have been permanently disabled in a drunken-driving accident accepted $1.1 million on July 19 in a Middlesex County suit, Arcia v. Hwang.
In December 2010, Yea Hwang, a 19-year-old Rutgers University student, was driving home from a student function at the Royal Gardens restaurant in Edison when she collided with Jonathan Arcia, then 40, on Woodbridge Avenue.
Arcia fractured his leg. While under anesthesia for surgery at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, he aspirated, causing fluid in his lungs and depriving his brain of oxygen for six to eight minutes. The aspiration, not immediately detected, led to Arcia's persistent vegetative state, says plaintiff lawyer, Ronald Goldfaden of Blume Goldfaden Berkowitz Donnelly Fried & Forte in Chatham.
Hwang had a blood-alcohol content of .103 percent. Arcia's family sued her and asserted dram-shop claims against the restaurant, where she was served alcohol even though underage.
Hwang, covered by High Point Insurance, agreed to pay the $100,000 policy limit. Royal Gardens, insured by Utica First Insurance Co., agreed to pay the $1 million policy limit.
Bruce Magaw of Decker & Magaw in Westfield, Royal Gardens' attorney, did not return a call. Neither did Hwang's attorney, Paul Mancuso of the law office of Debra Hart in Morganville. Paterson solo Norberto Yacono handled the first part of the case for the Arcias and referred it to Goldfaden's firm, he says.
— By David Gialanella
$1M for Pedestrian Accident
DiMeglio v. Ehrenfeld: A pedestrian hit by a car settled his Bergen County injury suit for $1 million on July 17.
As Jerry DiMeglio crossed Degraw Avenue in Teaneck on Sept. 6, 2011, a car hit him and threw him 15 to 20 feet, says his attorney, Dennis Drasco of Roseland's Lum, Drasco & Positan.
DiMeglio fractured his left leg, as well as his collarbone, sternum, ribs and facial bones, and underwent two surgeries but, now 80, still has pain and difficulty standing, sitting and walking, says Drasco, who handled the case with two other lawyers at the firm, Arthur Owens and Paul Sandars III.
The driver, Claire Ehrenfeld of Hackensack, initially contested liability and claimed comparative negligence on DiMeglio's part, arguing he should have used a crosswalk, Drasco says.
The case, filed in Bergen County, settled after mediation before retired Superior Court Judge Daniel Mecca, who heads a firm in Paramus.
DiMeglio will be paid from Ehrenfeld's $300,000 primary policy and part of her $2 million excess policy, both written by United Services Automobile Association, Drasco says. Defense lawyer Marie Carey, of Kevin McGowen's Florham Park office, did not return a call.
— By Michael Booth
$1M in Medical Malpractice Case
Arnold v. Steinbach: The family of a child whose kidney disease was attributed to a delayed diagnosis of his mother's prenatal liver disorder accepted $1 million in its Middlesex County suit.
On April 21, 2007, Carol Arnold, 36 weeks pregnant, arrived at the emergency room at JFK Medical Center in Edison with complaints of abdominal pain, says plaintiff lawyer William Crutchlow, of Eichen, Crutchlow, Zaslow & McElroy in Edison.
She was found to have protein in her urine, elevated liver enzymes and a low-normal platelet count. She was kept overnight and evaluated the next day by obstetrician Gary Steinbach, who discharged her after determining the fetus appeared normal.
On April 23, Arnold returned in worse condition, and an evaluation showed internal bleeding and placental abruption. She was diagnosed with a breakdown of red blood cells, elevated liver enzymes and low platelet count.
The child, delivered by Caesarean section, was born with failing kidneys, which caused growth retardation. In June, he underwent a kidney transplant, says Crutchlow, whose co-counsel was Barry Eichen of the same firm.
The mother is on permanent disability and has painful internal scarring. The March 6 settlement gave $100,000 to the mother and the rest to a structured settlement for the child. Steinbach's lawyer, E. Burke Giblin of Giblin & Combs in Morristown, did not return a call.
— By Charles Toutant