MOTOR VEHICLE

$110,000 Settlement in Two-Car Accident

Segreto v. Burns, BUR-L-3659-10; Burlington County Superior Court; July 18.

Facts & Allegations: On Feb. 14, 2010, John Segreto was driving on Hogback Road in Bordentown when hit by a Bordentown Township police car driven by Officer Christopher Burns, who allegedly ran a stop sign at Highbridge Road.

Segreto was diagnosed with thoracic compression disc fractures at T1, T2 and T3, and lumbar compression disc fractures at L1 through L4. An EMG showed right-sided radiculopathy at L5-S1. Segreto, who had a history of back injuries that included a lumbar fusion, had an epidural steroid injection for lower-back pain.

Segreto claimed he had the right of way, and sued Burns and Bordentown for negligence. Segreto’s wife, Judith, joined in the action, asserting a per quod loss-of-consortium claim. She suffered from Parkinson’s disease, and Segreto allegedly had been her primary caregiver. She died during the litigation.

Burns contended that just before the collision, he was following another car and was about to make a traffic stop. He also said his siren and overhead lights were on; Segreto said otherwise.

The defense argued that Segreto made a good recovery and that his injuries did not substantially impact his life. The defense unsuccessfully sought a summary judgment disposition on the grounds that Segreto’s claims did not meet the Tort Claims Act requirements.

The case settled for $110,000.

Plaintiff Attorney:Bryan Roberts, Stark & Stark, Lawrenceville.

Defense Attorney:Betsy Ramos, Capehart & Scatchard, Mount Laurel.

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

MOTOR VEHICLE

$60,000 Settlement in Collision

Albert v. Bender, MID-L-7787-11; Middlesex County Superior Court; July 17.

Facts & Allegations: Danon Albert was traveling on Route 9 in Sayreville on May 31, 2010, when her vehicle was struck from the rear by a vehicle driven by Yaakov Bender.

Albert complained of back and neck pain, and MRIs showed a noncompressed lumbar-disc bulge at L4-L5. Albert had chiropractic therapy for six months, and received two cortisone injections and a epidural injection for lower-back pain.

Albert claimed pain in her jaw, was diagnosed with an injury to her temporomandibular joint and had injections.

Albert sued Bender for negligence.

The defense disputed liability, arguing that Albert’s injuries did not meet the verbal tort threshold and that the TMJ was unrelated to the accident.

The case settled for $60,000.

Plaintiff Attorney:Michelle Tullio, Garces & Grabler, Perth Amboy.

Defense Attorney:Erica Sherman, Law Office ofWilliam Staehle, Morristown.

Insurer: GEICO.

Plaintiff Expert: Ira Klemons, D.D.S., TMJ, South Amboy.

Defense Experts: Joel Doner, D.D.S., maxillofacial surgery, West Orange; Steven H. Fried, M.D., orthopedic surgery, New Brunswick.

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

MOTOR VEHICLE

$20,000 in Crash Suit

Varanyak v. Shontz, BUR-L-957-11; Burlington County Superior Court; July 19.

Facts & Allegations: On April 1, 2010, Deborah Varanyak was traveling on Route 130 in Delran when struck from the rear by a sport utility vehicle driven by Thomas Shontz.

Varanyak allegedly experienced neck pain and nausea soon after. MRIs led to a diagnosis of cervical-disc herniations at C4-5 and C5-6. She complained of persistent neck pain.

Varanyak sued Shontz for negligence. Her husband asserted a per quod loss-of-consortium claim.

Liability was not disputed, and the case proceeded to a trial on damages.

The defense maintained that Varanyak’s injuries did not meet the permanency requirements of the tort threshold. The defense’s orthopedic surgery expert disputed the diagnosis of cervical-disc herniations, finding fault with the diagnostic protocols followed by the radiologist.

The case settled for $20,000.

Plaintiff Attorney:John Chomko, Voorhees.

Defense Attorney:Marie Ramos-Wright, Law Office of Robert Raskas, Marlton.

Insurer: GEICO.

Plaintiff Expert: Barry Gleimer, D.O., orthopedic surgery, Cherry Hill.

Defense Expert: Gary N. Goldstein, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Voorhees.

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

MOTOR VEHICLE

Defense Verdict in Auto-Accident Suit

Palmieri v. Marchese, MON-L-5171-09; Monmouth County Superior Court; Judge Katie Gummer; July 18.

Facts & Allegations: On June 8, 2008, taxicab driver Anthony Palmieri was driving on the Garden State Parkway when his vehicle was struck from the rear by a car driven by Kathryn Marchese.

Palmieri was diagnosed with cervical-disc herniations at C3-4, C4-5 and C5-6, lumbar herniations at L3-4, L4-5 and L5-S1, and cervical and lumbar radiculopathy.

Palmieri had a preexisting heart condition and suffered a heart attack subsequent to the accident. As a result, he declined epidural injection pain management therapy for his back and a recommended cervical discectomy.

Palmieri, who claimed he was driving at the limit of 65 mph, meaning Marchese was traveling faster, sued Marchese for negligence.

Liability was stipulated, and the matter proceeded to trial on damages, with the defense contending that Palmieri’s injuries did not meet the verbal tort threshold.

The defense’s orthopedic surgery expert opined that Palmieri’s complaints of back and neck pain were due to degenerative conditions of the spine. Defense counsel argued that Palmieri’s doctor had stated that a discectomy would resolve his cervical-disc complaints and that Palmieri’s complained-of cervical-spine damage therefore was not permanent.

The jury found Palmieri suffered no permanent injury.

Plaintiff Attorney: John Peduto, Law Office ofJohn Coyle, Jersey City.

Defense Attorney: Michael Lynch, Carton Law Firm, Manasquan.

Demand: $65,000.

Offer: $14,600.

Insurer: New Jersey Manufacturers.

Trial Details: trial length: 3 days; jury deliberations: 27 minutes; jury poll: 6-0; jury composition: 4 males, 3 females.

Plaintiff Expert: Jeff Pan, M.D., neurosurgery, Edison.

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

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.