A man who suffered neck injuries in a two-vehicle crash agreed to a $1.175 million settlement in his Middlesex County suit, Quaranta v Edelson, on Nov. 29, 2017.
In December 2014, Anthony Quaranta was driving his car on Scudders Mills Road in Plainsboro when he collided head-on with a vehicle driven by Annette Edelson. Edelson was making a left turn onto Scudders Mill Road from Campus Drive when she accidentally drove into the wrong lane and was traveling against oncoming traffic, according to the plaintiff attorney, Nicholas Leonardis of Stathis & Leonardis in Edison.
Quaranta, now 54, sustained cervical disc herniations at C4-C5 and C6-C7 that required spinal fusion surgery. Quaranta was also in another crash one day earlier, but he maintained that he was not injured, Leonardis said.
Edelson contended that Quaranta’s neck injuries were pre-existing and unrelated to the collision at issue, and sought to link his injuries to the previous accident. Quaranta admitted to some degeneration but argued he was asymptomatic and pain-free before his collision with Edelson, according to Leonardis.
The settlement was reached in mediation with former Superior Court Judge Mark Epstein, of Hoagland, Longo, Moran, Dunst & Doukas in New Brunswick.
Edelson was represented by Seth Garrod, who declined to comment on the case. Garrod handled the case for Morrison Mahoney in Parsippany but is now with Sachs, Maitlin & Greene in West Orange.
— Charles Toutant
$800K Verdict in Essex
Urena v. Gonzalez: An Essex County jury on Dec. 6 awarded a Clifton woman $800,000 in a verbal threshold case.
The award for for plaintiff Olivia Urena, 55, will be reduced to $90,000 because of a high-low agreement between her attorney, Lance Bitterman, and the attorney for defendant Louis Gonzalez, said Bitterman, of Fredson & Statmore in Clifton.
Urena was injured on Aug. 15, 2013, as she was driving on Third Street in Clifton, according to Bitterman. She was struck by Gonzalez, whom Bitterman claimed ignored a stop sign. His car struck Urena’s car on the driver’s side door, the suit claimed.
Urena sustained lumbar and cervical back injuries, which were treated through therapy, Bitterman said.
Essex County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Beacham presided over the trial, prior to which the parties entered a high-low agreement setting amounts of $1,500 and $90,000. The verdict triggered the $90,000 high. Gonzalez’s policy limit was $100,000, according to Bitterman.
Gonzalez was insured by GEICO, who referred the lawsuit to one of its in-house attorneys, Leslie DeTorres. She did not return a call about the case.
— Michael Booth
$600K Verdict in Phantom Vehicle Case
Moye v. Cedpedes: A retired FBI agent has received $679,254, including a $600,000 jury verdict, as compensation for injuries he sustained in an accident allegedly caused by a phantom vehicle.
A Middlesex County jury on Aug. 24 awarded plaintiff Gary Moye, 68, of Union, the bulk of the funds, $600,000, after finding a phantom driver and another defendant, Sabrina Cespedes of Newark, 55 percent and 45 percent liable, respectively.
The accident occurred on Dec. 22, 2014, as Moye was driving on Route 17 in East Rutherford, said his attorney, Michael Fusco.
The suit claimed a driver who was never identified abruptly crossed three lanes of traffic in order to exit, according to Fusco, of the Edison office of Levinson Axelrod.
James Dunn of the same firm also represented Moye.
The driver’s actions caused another driver, Daisy Mosquera of North Arlington, to slam on her brakes and make an emergency stop, Fusco said. Moye was able to stop before striking her car. However, a car behind Moye’s, driven by Cespedes, was unable to stop and struck Moye from behind, Fusco said.
Moye sued both Mosquera and Cespedes. He also filed uninsured-motorist claims with his own carrier, United Services Automobile Association, because of the unidentified driver and because Cespedes had no insurance. Cespedes was declared to be in default before the trial, Fusco said.
Mosquera’s carrier, Penn National Insurance Co., paid Moye $50,000 before trial to settle the claims, Fusco said.
Superior Court Judge Philip Paley added $29,254 in prejudgment interest after the verdict was returned.
Moye received the $629,254 from USAA on Dec. 11, Fusco said.
As a result of the accident, Fusco sustained cervical and lumbar injuries that required fusion surgery and injections, Fusco said, adding that the injuries forced Moye to retire from the FBI a year earlier than he expected.
John Malaspina, of the Law Office of Marie Carey in Florham Park, represented USAA. Penn National retained Robert Scirocco, who heads a firm in Budd Lake, to represent Mosquera.
Scirocco confirmed Penn National’s settlement. Malaspina did not return a call.
— Michael Booth