Scott Leonard

A Rutherford woman accepted $1.9 million to settle her suit alleging brain and other injuries from a traffic accident, Trikalsaransukh v. Statewide Striping.

Lina Trikalsaransukh was on the Garden State Parkway in Bloomfield on Oct. 19, 2009, when her car was struck from behind by a pickup truck, causing her car to leave the roadway and hit a tree, says her attorney, Scott Leonard of Morristown’s Leonard & Leonard.

The truck was owned by Statewide Striping Corp. of Parsippany and driven by employee Clifford Wilson, who denied liability.

Trikalsaransukh allegedly suffered a traumatic brain injury, with memory loss and concentration problems, and suffered disc and pelvic fractures, requiring surgery. The former chemist, now 64, cannot return to work.

The Essex County case settled on July 10 after mediation with retired Superior Court Judge Mark Epstein, now with New Brunswick’s Hoagland, Longo, Moran, Dunst & Doukas. Statewide Striping’s carrier, Hanover Insurance Co., retained Bruce Seidman of Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin in Roseland, who did not return a call.

— By Michael Booth

$1.8M in Medical Malpractice Suit

Valentin v. Bergman: A Union County jury on Sept. 25 awarded $1.5 million to a woman who suffered a brain injury after surgery complications. A high-low settlement gave her an extra $300,000.

Elizabeth Valentin was undergoing a thyroidectomy at Trinitas Hospital in Elizabeth in October 2007 when an intubation failure limited her oxygen. Surgeon Justin Bergman performed an emergency tracheotomy to create an airway, but she suffered a brain injury.

The suit claimed Bergman, radiologist David Levin and anesthesiologist Leon Pirak failed to detect narrowing of her trachea in a pre-operative CT scan and should not have attempted intubation. They disputed liability.

Valentin, now 71, has tremors, imbalance and memory and concentration issues, says her lawyer, William Lane of O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble in Westfield.

At trial before Superior Court Judge James Hely, the jury found negligence and proximate cause as to Bergman; negligence but no proximate cause as to Levin; and no negligence as to Pirak. The panel awarded $1.5 million against Bergman. The no-cause verdict on Levin triggered the $300,000 low in a high-low agreement; the high was $900,000, Lane says.

Pirak’s lawyer, David Weeks of Ruprecht Hart Weeks & Ricciardulli in Westfield, and Levin’s lawyer, Justin Johnson of Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin in Roseland, confirm the verdict but decline comment on the high-low.

Bergman’s lawyers, Samuel Rosenberg of Reisman Rosenberg Jacobs & Heller in Morris Plains and Michael Keating of Dughi, Hewit & Domalewski in Cranford, did not return calls.

— By David Gialanella


Nicholas Leonardis

$1.25M Over Alleged Road Rage

Vasisht v. Kugel: A Middlesex County jury awarded $1.25 million on Sept. 13 to a woman hurt in an accident she blamed on road rage, but her partial liability reduced recovery to $937,500.

Deepti Vasisht, now 37, was hit in the rear by another car on the New Jersey Turnpike on June 11, 2010, causing her vehicle to spin around and crash into a center barrier.

Ned Kugel, the other driver — apparently angered when Vasisht pulled in front of him when changing lanes — began to follow her closely, pulled alongside her in the right lane and allegedly swerved toward her car. To avoid him, Vasisht veered onto the left shoulder and then, with the shoulder about to end, pulled back into the left lane, where the collision occurred, according to her lawyer, Nicholas Leonardis of Stathis & Leonardis in Edison.

According to Leonardis, Kugel claimed he did not see Vasisht’s car until just before the collision. Separately, he pleaded guilty to careless driving.

Kugel’s lawyers, Scott Krupa of Viscomi & Lyon and Edward DePascale of McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter, both in Morristown, did not return calls.

At trial before Superior Court Judge Douglas Wolfson, the jury assigned 75 percent of liability to Kugel and 25 percent to Vasisht, reducing her award by $312,500.

Vasisht claimed to have suffered a fractured sternum, developed pain from a pre-existing herniated disc, underwent anterior lumbar fusion and has not worked since the surgery.

— By Charles Toutant


Rosemarie Arnold

$1.2M for Pedestrians’ Injuries

Vanfurichard v. Madden: The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark will pay $1.2 million to settle claims by two women that a priest ran them over at an intersection.

On Oct. 11, 2010, in East Rutherford, Patricia Vanfurichard and her daughter, Jessica, were crossing Hackensack Street in an unmarked crosswalk at Ann Street when Thomas Madden, driving south on Hackensack Street, knocked them to the ground.

Their lawyer, Rosemarie Arnold, who heads a Fort Lee firm, says it was dusk and Madden apparently did not see them.

Patricia chipped a neck bone at C-4; fractured her pubic bone, fractured the left tibial plateau, and suffered a closed-head injury and subdural hematoma. Now 86, she requires a daytime health-care aide and has memory problems.

The defense tried to blame Patricia’s problems on a stroke suffered a few years earlier, Arnold says.

Jessica, now 53, fractured her humerus, or upper arm bone, on her left, nondominant side.

Madden was driving a car owned and self-insured by the archdiocese.

The lump-sum settlement was reached with the aid of Bergen County Superior Court Judge Robert Polifroni.

Defense counsel Stephen Danek, of Carella Byrne Cecchi Olstein Brody & Agnello in Roseland, did not return a call.

— By Mary Pat Gallagher