A Rio Grande man has received $1.125 million as compensation for injuries he sustained when his car was struck at an intersection.
Plaintiff Michael Longshore, now 57, agreed to the settlement with Plymouth Insurance Co. and Cumberland Insurance Co., the carriers for defendant Thomas Carragher of Roseland, on Sept. 7, said Longshore’s attorney, Richard Albuquerque.
Longshore received his settlement funds on Sept. 27, said Albuquerque, of D’Arcy Johnson Day in Egg Harbor.
Longshore was injured on Aug. 4, 2013, as he was driving on Pacific Avenue in Wildwood, Albuquerque said.
The lawsuit, filed in Cape May County Superior Court, alleged that Carragher, who was driving on Oak Avenue, failed to stop at a stop sign at the intersection with Pacific Avenue and struck Longshore’s car on the driver’s side.
Longshore, according to Albuquerque, sustained multiple disc herniations that required a discectomy, and, due to a head injury, has partial vision loss in his right eye.
The parties agreed to settle the case after mediation before retired Superior Court Judge James Clyne of Benchmark Resolutions in New Egypt, Albuquerque said.
Carragher paid his full $250,000 primary policy with Plymouth Rock Insurance Co. That carrier retained Eric Robinson of the law office of Debra Hart in Mount Laurel.
Carragher had an excess policy with Cumberland Insurance Co., which paid $875,000 toward the settlement. That carrier retained Joseph Ruth of Vineland’s Gruccio, Pepper, DeSanto & Ruth.
Robinson did not return a call about the case. Ruth declined to comment.
The case had not yet been scheduled for trial, Albuquerque said.
— Michael Booth
$1M in Med Mal Suit vs. Veterans Affairs Dept.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs agreed on Oct. 26 to pay $1 million to the estate of a patient whose death was allegedly caused by premature removal of a breathing tube.
Michael Foster of Newark was admitted to the VA hospital in East Orange on June 24, 2013, for removal of his right lung due to the presence of a cancerous mass. After surgery he was placed on a breathing tube and mechanical ventilator, but on June 26, the tube was removed. Foster died four hours later, at age 59.
Foster’s estate brought suit against the department, the hospital and seven physicians who cared for Foster. The suit claimed Foster was taken off the breathing tube and ventilator prematurely, and that hospital staff ignored signs that the tube should be reconnected. Deposition testimony from a VA respiratory therapist said that within 30 minutes of the tube’s removal, the patient was doing so poorly that his condition was described as “circling the drain,” according to plaintiff lawyer Paul da Costa of Snyder Sarno D’Aniello Maceri & da Costa in Roseland.
Removal of the tube was not medically necessary and did not meet the VA’s own protocols, da Costa said. An autopsy showed Foster had a mucus plug in his airway, which was evidence that the patient struggled to breathe after the tube was removed, da Costa said.
The suit did not assert any economic losses but sought recovery for the four hours of conscious suffering that Foster experienced from the time the tube was removed to the time he was declared dead, said da Costa.
The defense asserted that Foster died suddenly and without suffering, according to da Costa.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristin Vassallo represented the government in the case. Matthew Reilly, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, confirmed the settlement.
— Charles Toutant
Work Site Fall Nets $990K in Essex
Delaney v. Turner Construction Co.: An electrician whose fall on the job left him unable to work settled his Essex County suit for $990,000 on Sept. 25.
In January 2012, Roy Delaney, then 55, was working as an electrician at a construction site at Burnett Hill School in Livingston. He was exiting a storage container where tools and materials were stored, and as he descended a wooden ramp leading to the container, he slipped and landed on his back.
Delaney sustained disc herniations of varying degrees at the cervical level, which required a three-level discectomy and fusion, with implantation of hardware, according to his lawyer, Lawrence Minasian of Greenberg Minasian in West Orange. Delaney, deemed disabled by the Social Security Administration, has been unable to return to work, and since the accident has developed tinnitus and difficulty swallowing, and takes medication to treat ongoing pain, Minasian said.
The suit named the general contractor, Vanas Construction Co. Inc., claiming it placed the storage container on uneven ground, and failed to fix the unstable wooden ramp despite numerous complaints. The suit claimed the position and condition of the container and ramp violated Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations, as well as Vanas’ contract with the board of education. The plaintiffs alleged that Vanas had a duty as general contractor to maintain overall site safety.
The workers’ compensation bar prevented Delaney from naming his employer, Sal Electric Co. Inc., the site’s electrical subcontractor, though Sal was joined via a third-party claim lodged by Vanas seeking contribution and indemnification based on their contract.
Vanas denied that there was a dangerous condition, and contended that Sal was responsible for the container and ramp, Minasian said. Vanas also alleged comparative negligence on Delaney’s part, and claimed the fall was caused by wet or slippery weather conditions, over which Vanas could have no control, he said.
The suit also named Turner Construction Co., which was the Livingston Board of Education’s construction manager. Turner’s motion for summary judgment was denied earlier this year, though the plaintiffs didn’t actively pursue claims against Turner, according to Minasian and Turner’s counsel, Eric Berger of Cozen O’Connor in New York. Turner didn’t have an active role in site management or safety, the lawyers said.
On the day of trial, Vanas settled with Delaney for $990,000, of which Sal contributed $400,000 to resolve the third-party indemnification claim; Turner didn’t pay into the settlement, the lawyers said.
Vanas’ counsel, Joseph Kelley of Zirulnik, Sherlock & DeMille in East Hanover, didn’t return a call about the case.
Neither did Sal’s counsel, Tricia Habert of Mayfield, Turner, O’Mara & Donnelly in Cherry Hill.
— David Gialanella