A woman who suffered severe back pain after her vehicle collided with a police car received a $2.6 million settlement in her Morris County suit, LaLonde v. Mount Olive Police Department, on July 15.
Danielle LaLonde, now 37, was driving on Flanders-Netcong Road at the intersection with Route 206 in Mount Olive on April 25, 2012, when her car was struck on the right side by a police car driven by Officer Marianne Wurtemberg of the Mount Olive Police Department, according to plaintiff lawyer James McHugh of McHugh & Brancato in Boonton.
An investigation indicated Wurtemberg proceeded against a red light, without emergency lights or sirens, while she was talking on a handheld mobile phone, though she contended that she was pursuing a speeding vechicle when the accident occurred, McHugh said.
LaLonde was diagnosed with disc herniation with impingement on the nerve roots at L5-S1. After four operations on her back, she continues to suffer from chronic low back pain, with pain and loss of sensation in her left lower extremity, she claimed. Her doctors have recommended that she consider additional surgery to implant a spinal stimulator to attempt to address her symptoms, McHugh said.
LaLonde filed suit against the Mount Olive Police Department, the township and Wurtemberg. Superior Court Judge Maryann Nergaard denied the defendants’ motions for summary judgment for good faith immunity and pursuit immunity.
The defendants’ medical expert did not dispute the nature or extent of LaLonde’s injuries but contended that they were not related to the accident at issue, according to McHugh.
The settlement of $2.6 million was reached June 8, following mediation with former Superior Court Judge Daniel Mecca of the Mecca Law Firm in Paramus.
Matthew Petracca of King & Petracca in Morris Plains, who represented the defendants, confirmed the amount of the settlement.
$1.75 Million in Bergen Dog Bite Case
Kraft v. Tasciyan: A home health care worker who developed a neurological condition after he was bitten by a client’s dog agreed to a $1.75 million settlement in his Bergen County suit on Aug. 10.
Howard Kraft, a physical therapist employed by Valley Hospital Home Care, was leaving the home of Aret and Meri Tasciyan on Feb. 5, 2014, after rendering care to their elderly relative, when he was bitten on the left hand by the couple’s dog, a two-year-old, 30-pound Schipperke-Corgi mix, the suit alleged.
Kraft, then 59, sustained three deep puncture wounds of the left index finger, requiring drainage and delayed primary closure, according to plaintiff lawyer Gerald Baker of Javerbaum Wurgaft Hicks Kahn Wikstrom & Sinins in Springfield.
As a consequence of the dog bite, Kraft developed complex regional pain syndrome, with pain, swelling and decreased range of motion. He underwent implantation of an infraclavicular catheter for pain control, and had operations to implant temporary and permanent spinal cord stimulators, the suit claimed.
Kraft contended that he was lawfully on the premises and therefore an invitee of the defendants, making them strictly liable for his injuries under the New Jersey Dog Bite Statute.
His suit with the Tasciyans was settled after mediation with former Superior Court Judge Eugene Codey of Connell Foley in Roseland.
The defendants were represented by Jeffrey O’Hara of LeClairRyan in Newark, who did not return a call about the case.
$725K for Job Site Injury in Ocean Co.
Dingler v. Torcon: An ironworker who claimed his on-the-job injury was caused by faulty equipment was paid a $725,000 settlement in his Ocean County suit on July 10.
David Dingler, 49, of Warren County, claimed he suffered severe and disabling injuries on March 21, 2013, when he was struck in the face by a steel strap while erecting steel columns at the Ocean Medical Center. The accident took place while Dingler was working on the construction of a new wing at the center.
According to Dingler’s lawyer, John J. McDermott, Torcon of Tinton Falls was the general contractor, Arnold Steel of Lakewood was the steel fabricator, and Dingler’s employer, Spencer Steel of Neptune City, was in charge of the steel erection.
Dingler was in the process of pulling a steel column into position using a steel cable anchored to a concrete footing by a steel strap, when the end of the strap tore free, striking Dingler in the face. According to McDermott, Dingler suffered fractures of the maxillary sinus walls, fractures of the right orbital floor, a fracture of the posterior right orbit, nasal bone fractures, fractures of the pterygoidal plates, a fracture of the right zygomatic arch, and extensive facial bone fractures.
To treat these injuries, Dingler had to go undergo multiple surgeries and was left with facial scarring, malocclusion of the mandible, a drooping eyelid and chronic tearing, McDermott said. His medical bills amounted to $109,244.
In his lawsuit, Dingler alleged that Arnold Steel had modified a defective strap, which McDermott said was too thin for its intended use. The lawsuit also alleged negligence on Torcon’s part in allowing a scaffold to be built around the concrete footing, preventing Dingler from standing at a safe distance from the strap.
Dingler settled for $725,000. The parties were assisted in the settlement process by a private mediator, retired Judge Bette Uhrmacher. Dingler received the settlement checks on July 10: $362,500 was paid on behalf of Arnold Steel and $362,500 was paid on behalf of Torcon, according to McDermott.
Arnold Steel was represented by Marta Kozlowska of Traub Lieberman Straus & Shrewsberry of Red Bank. Torcon was represented by Alicia L. Calaf of Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin in Roseland. Neither defense attorney could be reached for comment.