A Howell woman will receive $2.5 million in Peraza v. Mark Stephanick as compensation for injuries she received when her car was struck from behind by a car driven by a state employee.
The state of New Jersey agreed to pay plaintiff Gina Peraza, now 50, on Sept. 11, said Peraza’s lawyer, Paul Caliendo.
Peraza was injured on June 3, 2014, as she was dropping off her daughter at school in Howell, said Caliendo, of Woodbridge’s Gill & Chamas.
Peraza’s car, which was stopped in traffic, was struck from behind by a car driven by Mark Stephanick, an information technology worker employed by the state Administrative Office of the Courts, Caliendo said.
Peraza sustained numerous broken bones in her left foot, a right knee meniscus tear, and damage to the right knee and ankle, Caliendo said. She has undergone four surgeries since the accident that included the insertion and removal of hardware, he said.
The Attorney General’s Office, which represented the AOC, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
— Michael Booth
$550K in Pedestrian Case in Union
Berdebes v. Stierhoff: A man who was struck by a vehicle while walking in a crosswalk agreed to a $550,000 settlement in his Union County suit on Sept. 13.
Michael Berdebes, now 44, was outside the Westfield train station on July 23, 2014, when he was struck by a vehicle driven by Matthew Stierhoff. Berdebes first passed in front of a bus that was stopped at the crosswalk before he was struck by Stierhoff, who was in the next lane and did not stop, the suit alleged. Stierhoff maintained that he never saw Berdebes, said John Voynick Jr., who represented the plaintiff along with Andrew Renda Jr. Both are with Renda & Voynick in Cedar Grove. Stierhoff was issued a summons for failing to stop at the crosswalk but he pleaded guilty with a civil reservation, Voynick said.
Berdebes was thrown approximately 30 feet and suffered a loss of consciousness. He sustained a concussion and closed head injury. He also experienced post-traumatic stress disorder and an exacerbation of pre-existing anxiety, depression and stuttering, said Voynick. He also experienced occasional vertigo, as well as herniated discs in his neck and back, which required epidural injections, and left shoulder impingement syndrome. Berdebes also underwent extensive physical therapy and psychotherapy, Voynick said.
No lost wage claim was made on behalf of Berdebes, Voynick said. Before the accident, Berdebes was considered completely disabled due to his stutter, but he worked part-time as a fishmonger. He was forced to give up that job because his vertigo made it unsafe for him to work with sharp knives, Voynick said.
The $550,000 settlement was reached after three days of trial before Superior Court Judge Robert Mega, including cross-examination of defense experts. The settlement was paid by Liberty Mutual, the carrier for Stierhoff.
Jill Ash of Viscomi & Lyons in Morristown, who represented Stierhoff, did not return a call seeking comment.
— Charles Toutant
$400K Auto Settlement in Monmouth
Kane v. Wasilewski: A Tinton Falls woman will receive $400,000 as compensation for injuries she sustained when her car was rear-ended by a commercial vehicle.
Plaintiff Lisa Kane, now 39, agreed to the settlement with Harleysville Insurance Co., the carrier for defendants Elenco Building Controls and its employee, Matthew Wasilewski, on Sept. 27, said Kane’s attorney, Richard Lomurro.
Kane was injured on Feb. 18, 2013, as she was stopped at a traffic light on Route 35 north in Eatontown. Kane’s car was struck from behind by an Elenco truck driven by Wasilewski, said Lomurro, of Lomurro Law in Freehold.
As a result of the accident, Kane sustained a herniated vertebrae that required physical therapy, injections and fusion surgery, Lomurro said.
The case settled after mediation with retired Superior Court Judge Louis Locascio, now with the Red Bank office of Gold, Albanese, Barletti & Locascio.
Harleysville retained Andrew Hewitt of Woodbridge. He could not be reached for comment.
— Michael Booth