In Howlen v. Capital Health Systems, a Mercer County jury on Sept. 26 awarded the family of a 20-year-old Trenton woman who died several days after giving birth to her child more than $6 million as compensation.
The woman, Toniquea Rivers, died on Feb. 3, 2012, days after giving birth to her son Zion Mikel Howlin Rivers, said the family’s attorney, Joshua Van Naarden.
Rivers collapsed at her parents’ home and was taken to St. Francis Medical Center in Trenton by a Capital Health Services ambulance, said Van Naarden, of Ross Feller Casey in Philadelphia.
The lawsuit alleged that an untrained paramedic improperly intubated Rivers, and that she lost oxygen supply to the brain. She was pronounced dead at the hospital, Van Naarden said.
The defendant asserted qualified immunity, but unsuccessfully, Van Naarden said.
The jury awarded Rivers’ family $1.68 million for her pain and suffering, $1.12 million for loss of household services, $873,193 for loss of future earnings, and $332,645 for loss of fringe benefits, Van Naarden said.
The jury awarded the child an additional $2 million, he said.
Capital Health Systems, which was self-insured, was the sole defendant against which damages were awarded. The company retained Carolyn Bohmueller of O’Brien & Ryan in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania. She did not return a call about the case.
Superior Court Judge Douglas Hurd presided over the three-week trial.
— Michael Booth
Truck vs. Car Case Settles for $1.85M in NJ Federal Court
Perry v. Kimberling: A driver who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a head-on crash with a truck agreed to a $1.85 million settlement in his federal suit on Sept. 20.
Thomas Perry, then 30, was driving southbound on Sparta Avenue in Sparta on Nov. 11, 2014, when an oncoming truck crossed the center line and struck him head-on. The accident occurred after the truck’s driver, Michael Kimberling, fell asleep at the wheel, according to plaintiff lawyer Edward Capozzi. Just before the crash, Kimberling was behind the wheel for 18 hours, driving from Tennessee to New Jersey, then slept for 45 minutes before resuming his trip, Capozzi said. Because the truck’s weight exceeded 10,000 pounds, the driver was subject to federal regulations limiting the number of hours a driver can go without sleeping, Capozzi said. An expert for the plaintiff calculated that federal regulations dictated that Kimberling was required to stop for a 10-hour break near Winchester, Virginia, said Capozzi.
Perry suffered fractures of the right ankle, requiring open reduction and internal fixation, and a severe cut to the right hand. He also sustained a 20-centimeter laceration of the forehead and a brain hemorrhage.
He also suffered a frontal lobe injury that left him anxious and overly sensitive and gave him a short temper, although he was able to resume his job as an accountant, said Capozzi.
He also sustained a disc herniation at C6-C7, which is expected to require cervical steroid injections, and a posterior disc bulge at L3-L4, the suit claimed.
Perry was also diagnosed with contusions and lacerations to the frontal lobe of the brain after undergoing an MRI test with Diffusion Tensor Imaging at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, according to Capozzi. That test, which can detect injuries that might not appear in a conventional MRI, supported the plaintiff’s claims of a brain injury, Capozzi said.
Perry filed suit against Kimberling; the truck’s owner, Randy Deitman; and Mark 1 Inc., Kimberling’s employer.
Perry made a strong recovery, and his accounting business saw increased volume by 30 percent after the accident, which prompted the defendants to dispute the plaintiff’s claims of a brain injury, according to Capozzi.
The settlement was facilitated by U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy Waldor, who sits in Newark, Capozzi said.
Capozzi, of Brach Eichler in Roseland, represented the plaintiff along with Corey Dietz of the same firm.
Mark Sander of Sander & Carson in Marlton, who represented Mark 1, declined to comment.
Kimberling and Deitman were represented by Gregory Boyle of Ronan, Tuzzio & Giannone in Tinton Falls, who did not return a call seeking comment.
— Charles Toutant
Auto, UIM Claims Settle for $869,000
Daily v. DiMare: A motorist injured in an accident recently settled claims against two of his insurers in his Middlesex County suit, bringing his recovery in the case to $868,831.
Donald Daily on Sept. 27 settled with New Jersey Manufacturers for $225,000, according to his lawyer, Kevin Parsons of Gill & Chamas in Woodbridge.
In November 2013, Daily was driving on Throckmorton Lane in Old Bridge, slowing to make a left turn onto Hastings Road, when another motorist, Rosemarie DiMare, turned from Hastings onto Throckmorton, striking Daily’s vehicle on the driver’s side and causing him to strike his head on the driver’s side window, Parsons said.
The suit claimed Daily sustained three disc herniations at the cervical level and two herniations at the lumbar level. Daily, an Army veteran who had done combat tours in Iraq, also claimed the impact aggravated post-traumatic stress disorder and concussion syndrome, originally developed when he was on duty and an explosion occurred near him, Parsons said.
Daily underwent a discectomy and other treatments for the spinal issues. The suit claimed Daily, 38, was unable to return to work as a foreman for a natural gas contractor, a job he had performed since returning from active military duty in 2011, Parsons said, noting that Daily has received disability benefits from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs because of the spinal injuries and psychological issues.
The suit named DiMare, who in March 2016 agreed to settle for $93,830 of her $100,000 auto policy. Daily then asserted underinsured-motorist claims against his auto carrier, USAA, and his wife’s auto carrier, NJM, according to Parsons.
The defense contended that Daily’s cervical spine injury, as well as the concussion syndrome and PTSD, were existing conditions, and that his inability to work was not tied to the auto accident, Parsons said.
USAA agreed to settle in August for $550,000; on Sept. 27, NJM agreed to pay $225,000, bringing the total recovery to $868,831, according to Parsons.
The claim against NJM had been scheduled for trial before Middlesex County Superior Court Judge Vincent LeBlon, Parsons said.
USAA’s counsel, William Fanning of the Law Offices of Marie Carey in Florham Park, declined to comment on the case.
NJM’s counsel, John Harding of Martin Kane & Kuper in East Brunswick, didn’t return a call seeking comment.
Neither did DiMare’s counsel, Jeffrey Czuba of Hoagland, Longo, Moran, Dunst & Doukas in New Brunswick.
— By David Gialanella