The family of a New Jersey state trooper who was killed by a car while responding to an auto accident is receiving $2.375 million in their suit, Estate of Cullen v. Desousa, as compensation.
Trooper Sean Cullen, 31, of Cinnaminson, died on March 8, 2016, hours after he was struck by a car driven by defendant Stephanie Desousa of Holmdel, said the Cullen family’s attorney, John Dodig.
Shortly after 8 p.m. on March 7, Cullen, assigned to the Bellmawr station, was responding to a car fire on Interstate 295 southbound in West Deptford.
That accident was caused when a car driven by Willard Hamilton Jr. of Paulsboro struck a car, driven by Dajuan Wagner of Paulsboro, causing Wagner’s car to burst into flames, said Dodig, of Philadelphia’s Feldman, Shepherd, Wohlgelernter, Tanner & Dodig.
Cullen, a trooper since 2014 after serving as a police officer in Sea Isle City and Mount Holly, had parked his car at the scene and was crossing the highway on foot when he was struck by Desousa’s car, Dodig said.
Cullen, a native of Dublin, Ireland, died at a hospital several hours after the accident as the result of massive injuries, said the lawsuit, filed in Gloucester County Superior Court.
The lawsuit was filed by his fiancee, Aryn McCormick, and his father, Eamonn Cullen. Both are from Cinnaminson. Cullen was the father of a young son.
Desousa’s carrier, Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., is paying $2.25 million into the settlement. Hamilton was covered by a policy issued by Plymouth Rock Insurance Co., which is paying $100,000. Wagner was covered by a policy written by USAA, which is tendering $25,000, Dodig said.
Plymouth Rock and USAA retained Barbara Davis of the Cherry Hill office of Marshall, Dennehey, Warner, Coleman & Goggin to represent Hamilton and Wagner. She declined to comment.
Liberty Mutual retained Lewis Jackson of Styliades & Jackson in Mount Laurel. He did not return a call seeking comment.
The parties agreed to settle the case on Nov. 7, Dodig said, and the Cullen family is in the process of receiving its settlement funds.
— Michael Booth
$990K for Slip & Fall in Essex
Sanders v. Tozzo: An auto dealership worker who fell in an icy lot was paid $990,000 to settle his Essex County suit on Dec. 29.
According to attorneys involved in the case, in December 2013, Douglas Sanders, an employee of BMW of Bloomfield, was retrieving a dealership vehicle from a offsite, secondary lot. The lot, located in Belleville, was owned by Dominick Tozzo, principal of another nearby dealership, Lynnes Nissan. BMW of Bloomfield had an oral agreement with Tozzo allowing the dealership to park 200 of its vehicles on the lot.
While in the lot, Sanders fell in an icy area between two parked BMWs. He claimed he sustained a torn meniscus in his right knee, requiring two arthroscopic surgeries, and a two-level herniation to his lumbar spine, requiring injections and a one-level discectomy and fusion procedure. Sanders, currently 43, has since been unable to return to work, said his lawyer, John Molinari of Blume Forte Fried Zerres & Molinari in Chatham.
The suit named Tozzo. A workers’ compensation bar prevented Sanders from litigating against BMW of Bloomfield.
Tozzo contended that Sanders’ back injury wasn’t related to the fall, because that injury wasn’t treated until a year later, said Tozzo’s lawyer, Michael Salvo of Ahmuty, Demers & McManus in Morristown.
The parties also disputed whether Sanders was physically able to return to work after the fall.
As for liability, the main issue was whether it was Tozzo’s or BMW of Bloomfield’s responsibility to clear snow and ice from the area where BMW vehicles were stored. Tozzo claimed his employees routinely plowed only main and side aisles, while Sanders said Tozzo’s employees routinely salted between BMW autos, the attorneys said.
The parties were well into discovery when they settled last Dec. 14, during mediation with Paul Vichness, a retired Essex County Superior Court judge with Mandelbaum Salsburg in Roseland.
Tozzo was insured by Chubb. Sanders net workers’ comp lien was $220,000, according to Molinari.
Salvo confirmed the settlement.
— David Gialanella
Workplace Fall Nets $750K in Somerset
Lentini v. Denver Road LLC: A woman who underwent three operations after a parking lot fall agreed to a $750,000 settlement in her Somerset County suit on Nov. 17, 2017.
In May 2013, Lucretia Lentini, then 59, was walking in the parking lot of the Bridgewater office building where she worked when she stepped on some broken pavement, causing her ankle to buckle. She fell to the ground, and later complained of pain in the face and ankle, according to her lawyer, Edward Rebenack of Rebenack, Aronow & Mascolo in Somerville.
Lentini claimed her ankle worsened, causing her to fall at home on multiple occasions, attributing the instability to a torn ligament. She underwent surgery to repair the ligament but did not experience relief, she claims. She then had an operation to reconstruct her arch, but her symptoms allegedly became worse after that procedure. Lentini then had a third operation, for tarsal tunnel syndrome, but that was also unsuccessful in relieving pain, she claimed. She was recommended for a subtalar fusion procedure, but she refused. Lentini was also referred for pain management after a diagnosis of complex regional pain syndrome that resulted from the operations, Rebenack said.
Lentini sued Denver Road LLC, the building owner, and Linque Management Co., the property manager.
The $750,000 settlement was reached during a conference with Superior Court Judge Robert Ballard.
Rebenack was assisted by Tyler Hall.
Timothy Jaeger of Marshall, Dennehey, Warner, Coleman & Goggin in Roseland, who represented the defendants, did not return a call about the case.
— Charles Toutant