In Adams v. A&R Woodbridge, a Middlesex County jury awarded $2 million on Oct. 24 to a man who required back and neck surgery after he slipped in an icy parking lot.
George Adams, now 51, parked his car and was heading into a restaurant when he slipped on a large patch of ice in the parking lot at The Plaza at Woodbridge on Feb. 7, 2014. He sustained cervical and lumbar disc herniations, and underwent fusion surgeries.
The ice was the result of run-off from a large pile of snow that was melting, causing water to drain toward a nearby storm grate before it re-froze, said Nicholas Leonardis of Stathis & Leonardis in Edison, who represented Adams. The snow removal contractor warned the owner that leaving a pile of snow in that spot was hazardous, but the owner said it could not be left elsewhere because it would cause the loss of parking spaces, Leonardis said.
After surgery, Adams was unable to return to his job driving a van for special needs children, according to Leonardis.
Shopping center owner A&R Woodbridge, property manager Ackerman Realty and snow contractor All Phase Contracting were named as defendants.
Each defendant argued that they acted reasonably, and claimed the others were responsible for the way the snow was piled, Leonardis said. The defendants also argued that Adams’ injuries were unrelated to the fall, but were caused by two prior incidents where he suffered neck and back injuries, in 2007 and 2011, Leonardis said.
Following a six-day trial before Superior Court Judge Lisa Vignuolo, the jury set damages at $2 million, and found that A&R Woodbridge and Ackerman Realty were jointly 100 percent liable. The jury declined to find All Phase or Adams liable for the fall.
Lynne Herskovitz of Viscomi & Lyons in Morristown, representing A&R and Ackerman, did not return a call about the case.
— Charles Toutant
$800K in Middlesex Auto Case
Dropp v. Sutton: A New York man is to receive $800,000 as compensation in his Middlesex County suit for injuries he sustained when his car was struck by another.
Plaintiff Thomas Droppa, now 54, of Staten Island, agreed to the settlement on Oct. 18 after mediation with retired Superior Court Judge Paul Vichness of Roseland’s Mandelbaum Salsburg, said Droppa’s attorney, Mark McBratney.
Droppa was injured on May 31, 2015, as he was stopped at a red light on Route 35 in Sayreville, said McBratney, of Seigel Law in Ridgewood. His car was struck from behind by a rental car driven by Adam Sutton and owned by Avis Rent-A-Car Systems, McBratney said.
Droppa sustained a disc herniation at the cervical level, which required pain management, including three epidural injections. Droppa later underwent a one-level cervical fusion procedure. He continues to experience pain, McBratney said.
Avis argued initially that the plaintiff’s injuries were pre-existing, though liability was not in dispute, according to McBratney.
It was unclear whether Avis was self-insured or had coverage provided by a carrier.
Clifton solo Gregg Ilardi represented Avis. He did not return a call seeking comment on the case.
— Michael Booth
Spinal Case Settles for $710K on Trial Day
Hale v. ShopRite of Wharton: A woman involved in a supermarket slip-and-fall and auto accident in consecutive years settled her Morris County suit on Oct. 16 for $710,000.
In June 2013, Kristine Hale was in ShopRite of Wharton when she stepped on a grape and fell, leading to neck and back injuries treated with physical therapy and epidural injections, according to her lawyer, David Fried of Blume Forte Fried Zerres & Molinari in Chatham.
In March 2014, Hale was driving on Schoolhouse Road in Jefferson Township when another motorist, Vincent Cannarozzi, pulled out from a side street onto Schoolhouse Road and struck the side of her vehicle. Hale had previously stopped treatment in connection with the supermarket fall but, after the auto accident, underwent a one-level discectomy, laminectomy and fusion at the lumbar level, Fried said.
He said Hale, currently 51, has since been unable to return to work as a human resources professional, though she has yet to be deemed totally disabled.
Hale’s suit named both ShopRite of Wharton and Cannarozzi. She claimed the store had notice of the grape on the floor, but negligently failed to remove it. She claimed Cannarozzi had a stop sign and abruptly pulled onto Schoolhouse Road even though there was a snow pile impeding his view.
The defendants dispute the extent of Hale’s injuries, according to Fried. ShopRite contended that Hale’s injuries were more attributable to the auto accident, while Cannarozzi contended that her condition was roughly equally attributable to the fall and the crash, Fried said.
The parties settled on the day of trial, during a conference with Morris County Assignment Judge Rosemary Ramsey. Cannarozzi, through his Selective Insurance auto policy, agreed to pay $610,000, while ShopRite agreed to pay $100,000, Fried said.
Jill Flynn of Zirulnik Sherlock & DeMille in East Hanover, for Cannarozzi, didn’t return a call about the case.
Neither did David Pelesko of Gold, Albanese, Barletti & Locascio in Morristown, for ShopRite.
— David Gialanella