$60,000 Verdict in Taxi Accident

Garcia v. Amigo Taxi; Middlesex County Superior Court; Judge Douglas Hague; Aug. 23.

Facts & Allegations: Yadira Garcia was a passenger in a taxicab that was struck from the rear by another vehicle on July 31, 2009, in Franklin Township.

Garcia, who was treated for lumbar-disc herniations, sued taxi driver Jose Serano and owner Amigo Taxi for negligence.

Liability was stipulated, and the zero-threshold case went to trial on damages.

Garcia was treated for four months for back and neck injuries by a chiropractor. MRIs showed lumbar-disc herniations at L4-5 and L5-S1.

An orthopedic surgeon opined that her lumbar herniations, along with soft-tissue injuries to her lower back, were related to the accident.

At the time of trial, Garcia claimed $19,829 in unpaid medical expenses, which were stipulated to with an agreement that they would be added to any damages returned by the jury.

The defense’s orthopedic surgery expert testified there was no evidence that the herniations were caused by the accident and that they were more likely the result of a degenerative spinal condition.

The jury determined that Garcia should receive $60,000 in damages, and judgment was entered for $79,829 after the addition of the stipulated amount of outstanding medical expenses.

Plaintiff Attorney: Lawrence LeBrocq, Garces & Grabler, New Brunswick.

Defense Attorney: David Avedissian, Haddonfield.

Insurer: First Keystone Risk Retention Group for both defendants.

Trial Details: trial length: 3 days; jury deliberations: 35 minutes; jury poll: 8-0; jury composition: 1 male, 7 females.

Plaintiff Expert: David Lessing, M.D., orthopedic surgery, South Plainfield.

Defense Expert: Robert Bercik, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Clark.

This report is based on information from plaintiff and defense counsel.


$20,000 Verdict in Dental Malpractice Suit

Belleza v. Shah; Hudson County Superior Court; Judge Lawrence Maron; July 26.

Facts & Allegations: Lilian Belleza went to prosthodontist Shweta Shah on Feb. 1, 2010, to get four dental implants.

Belleza claimed that even into the night of the date on which the procedure was performed, she continued to have chin numbness. She claimed that at a follow-up visit, Shah could not relieve the numbness and that she was left with permanent alveolar nerve damage.

Belleza sued Shah for medical malpractice, alleging that the treatment had fallen below the standard of care.

Counsel for Belleza argued that as soon as she developed numbness, Shah should have backed out the implants, which would have prevented the nerve damage.

Shah contended that there had been no negligence or deviation from the standard of care. She claimed that since the nerve was clinically healing, there was no indication the position of the implants caused problems and that backing out the implants might have caused injury.

She also contended that Belleza had fully healed.

The jury found in favor of Belleza and awarded $20,000 in damages.

Plaintiff Attorney:Frank Nostrame, Jersey City.

Defense Attorney: Brian Corrigan, trial counsel to Morrison Mahoney, Parsippany.

Trial Details: trial length: 5 days; jury deliberations: 5 hours; jury poll: 7-1; jury composition: 1 male, 6 females.

Plaintiff Expert: Warren Torchinsky, D.D.S., maxillofacial surgery, Maple Shade Township.

Defense Expert: Philip R. Geron, D.M.D., oral surgery, Westfield.

Post-Trial: Plaintiff’s motion for additur was denied.

This report is based on information from plaintiff and defense counsel.


$10,000 Verdict in Sideswipe Accident

Tseytelman v. Tavares; Monmouth County Superior Court; Judge David Bauman; Aug. 7.

Facts & Allegations: Max Tseytelman claims he was a front-seat passenger on Jan. 23, 2008, in a car driven by his friend Naremskaya Yeugeniya (with the permissive use of Aleksey Maremsky) when they were sideswiped from the right on the Garden State Parkway near Clark.

The collision allegedly caused Tseytelman’s host vehicle to swerve left, strike the concrete divider and flip over before coming to rest on its roof.

Tseytelman sued the other driver, Fernando Tavares, as well as the driver and owner of his host vehicle, for negligence.

Liability was stipulated, with the defendants agreeing to allocate negligence equally between the two driver-defendants. The case proceeded to trial on damages only, with both defendants contending that Tseytelman’s injuries did not meet the verbal tort threshold.

Tseytelman went to a hospital several hours later, complaining of neck, shoulder and knee pain.

He underwent chiropractic treatments, physical therapy and acupuncture. MRI studies showed cervical-disc bulging at C5-6 and C6-7. An EMG was positive for bilateral radiculopathy at C5-6.

At trial, a nontreating physical-medicine physician opined that the injuries were related to the accident and permanent.

The defense’s orthopedic surgery expert said Tseytelman had suffered no permanent injury, the radiculopathy had resolved and the MRI films were not of diagnostic quality.

The jury found Tseytelman had suffered a permanent injury and awarded damages totaling $10,000.

Plaintiff Attorney:Charles Kenny, LoPiano Kenny & Stinson, Hoboken.

Defense Attorneys:Joseph Garvey, Garvey, Ballou & Rogalski, Toms River (for Aleksey Maremsky, Naremskaya Yeugeniya); Michael Lynch, Carton Law Firm, Manasquan (for Fernando Tavares).

Insurers: Allstate for Yeugeniya and Maremsky; New Jersey Manufacturers for Tavares.

Trial Details: trial length: 3 days; jury deliberations: 6 hours; jury poll: 6-1.

Plaintiff Expert: Frank Rotella, D.O., physical medicine, Jersey City.

Defense Expert: Michael H. Gordon, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Wall.

This report is based on information from plaintiff counsel and defense counsel for Tavares. Defense counsel for Yeugeniya and Maremsky declined to comment.


Defense Verdict in Suit Over Heart Condition

Pilukaitis v. Georgeson;Middlesex County Superior Court; Judge Barry Weisberg; Aug. 26.

Facts & Allegations: On July 13, 2009, Robert Pilukaitis went to see cardiologist Steven Georgeson, later claiming he made the appointment because of decreased exercise tolerance. He also later claimed he complained of a fever during the visit, which Georgeson disputed.

Georgeson ran some cardiac tests on Pilukaitis and determined that he was likely suffering from a virus or flu. Georgeson reportedly told Pilukaitis to follow up with his general practitioner, Anthony Frisoli, and ordered an echocardiogram.

The next day, Pilukaitis went to Frisoli with his complaints, and his claim of having experienced fevers off and on for nine days was recorded by Frisoli. Pilukaitis was sent for blood work, and Frisoli made a similar assessment as Georgeson—that Pilukaitis had a virus or flu.

On July 21, 2009, an echocardiogram showed no vegetation on the aortic valve, and Georgeson did not change his diagnosis.

Pilukaitis returned to Georgeson allegedly worse on July 28, 2009. A blood culture came back positive for infection. Pilukaitis was diagnosed with endocarditis and admitted to the hospital the next day, where he started receiving antibiotics.

On July 31, 2009, Pilukaitis was transferred to a different hospital and underwent an aortic-valve replacement, as well as removal of an abscess on the valve. Pilukaitis subsequently claimed his new valve had a leakage problem.

Pilukaitis sued Georgeson and Frisoli, alleging negligent treatment, failure to test and delayed diagnosis.

He claimed that a blood culture should have been ordered on July 13 or 14 for symptoms; that as a result of the delayed diagnosis, Pilukaitis had to undergo the aortic-valve replacement; and that an earlier surgery would have yielded a better result.

He also claimed the delayed surgery caused an aneurysm of the aorta and that his current condition led to restrictions on his physical activity.

Both doctors disputed those claims, arguing that Pilukaitis’ condition on July 13 and July 14 was not indicative of endocarditis and that the treatment/workup on both dates had been appropriate.

Georgeson claimed that when Pilukaitis arrived on July 28, he was in noticeably worse condition, and was properly tested and diagnosed for endocarditis.

It was further argued that even if the endocarditis had been diagnosed earlier, Pilukaitis still would have required an aortic-valve replacement. The defense also argued that Pilukaitis had had a very good result from his surgery and that the aneurysm was not related to surgery.

The jury rendered a defense verdict.

Plaintiff Attorney:Anthony Macri, Parsippany.

Defense Attorneys: Scott Eichhorn, Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, Roseland (for Steven Georgeson); Gregory Giordano, Lenox, Socey, Formidoni, Giordano, Cooley, Lang & Casey, Lawrenceville (for Anthony Frisoli); none reported for Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.

Trial Details: trial length: 2 weeks; jury deliberations: 2 hours; jury poll: 8-0 as to Frisoli, 7-1 as to Georgeson.

Plaintiff Experts: Leonard Moss, D.O., cardiology, Cedar Knolls; Richard Podell, M.D., general practice, Summit.

Defense Experts: Edward Julie, M.D., cardiology, Clifton; Bruce Mindich, M.D., cardiothoracic surgery, Ridgewood; Robert Perkel, Philadelphia.

This report is based on court records and information provided by defense counsel for Georgeson. Neither defense counsel for Frisoli nor plaintiff counsel returned 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 or call 1-800-832-1900.