In Gorth v. Stutzman, a Middlesex County jury on Jan. 11 awarded a Stanhope man $6.8 million as compensation for injuries he sustained when his car was struck in a chain-reaction collision.
The jury found defendant All Holding Co. and its employee, Lama Stutzman, liable for injuries to plaintiff Joseph Gorth, now 44, in connection with the accident, said Gorth’s attorney, Edward Lutz, who heads a firm in Parsippany.
Gorth was injured on July 22, 2015. He was a passenger in a car owned by his employer, Dyer Insulation of Rockaway, at the time of the accident. The car in which Gorth was a passenger was on Stelton Road in South Plainfield.
The truck, owned by All Holding of Soudertown, Pennsylvania, and driven by Stutzman, struck another truck from behind, causing a chain reaction that resulted in Gorth’s car being struck, Lutz said.
As a result of the accident, the plaintiff sustained a broken back, torn labrum, aggravation of asymptomatic cervical disc herniations, and a vertebral osteomyelitis and discitis at the fracture site, which required multiple hospitalizations and extensive medical treatment, Lutz said.
Gorth, Lutz said, returned to work after a year, but eventually had to stop working because of continuing pain.
The award will be offset by a $100,000 workers’ compensation lien, Lutz said.
All Holding and Stutzman were the only defendants in the lawsuit, Lutz said.
All Holding’s carrier, Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., retained Nicole Hollingsworth of Viscomi & Lyons in Morristown to represent All Holding and Stutzman. Hollingsworth didn’t return a call about the case.
Middlesex County Superior Court Judge Melvin Gelade presided over the four-day trial.
$1.4M for Fatal Surgery Errors
Estate of Cangelosi v Geltzeiler: A Monmouth County medical malpractice suit claiming fatal errors during and after prostate surgery was settled for $1.425 million on Nov. 13, 2017.
Frank Cangelosi, 63, died the day after undergoing prostate surgery at Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune in 2009. A laser was used to remove excess tissue from the prostate, but, the suit claimed, defendant urologist Jules Geltzeiler failed to recognize and treat continued post-surgical bleeding, according to the complaint filed by Bruce Nagel and Susan Connors of Nagel Rice in Roseland.
According to the suit, Cangelosi’s heart began to beat rapidly, and his blood pressure became unstable as a result of the bleeding, but Geltzeiler failed to take notice. Geltzeiler likely caused a perforation of the prostate during surgery, but did not examine the site or order a hematology consult, which would have enabled him to repair the perforation and control the bleeding, Connors said.
Cangelosi was later diagnosed with disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), a condition characterized by multiple blood clots, and died the following day.
Cangelosi was taken to an intensive care unit seven hours after the surgery ended. Lawyers for Geltzeiler and for Jersey Shore disputed that earlier treatment would have helped, because DIC has a high mortality rate, according to Walsh.
The settlement, reached prior to trial last Nov. 13, calls for Geltzeiler to pay his $1 million policy limit and for Jersey Shore to pay $425,000. Geltzeiler’s payment was received Jan. 9, but payment from Jersey Shore has not been received, according to the attorneys.
Nagel and Connors represented Cangelosi’s widow, Jann Benzilio and his daughter, Cara Cangelosi.
Richard Amdur of Amdur, Maggs & Shor in Eatontown, who represented Jersey Shore, confirmed the settlement.
Paul Schaaf of Orlovsky, Moody, Schaaf, Conlon & Gabrysiak in West Long Branch, who represented Geltzeiler, did not return a call seeking comment.
$500K Verdict in Essex UIM Case
Morrison-Newkirk v. Liberty Mutual: A woman claiming she was injured in a rear-end accident was awarded $500,000 by an Essex County jury on Dec. 6 in an action against her auto insurer, though her recovery is to be roughly half that sum.
On Nov. 3, 2014, Jade Morrison-Newkirk was stopped at a red light at the intersection of Hoover Avenue and John F. Kennedy Drive in Bloomfield when another motorist, Rayshawn Brown, failed to stop and struck her vehicle from behind at full speed, causing her in turn to strike the vehicle in front of her, said her lawyer, Timothy Fonseca of Corradino & Papa in Clifton.
Brown claimed his brakes failed and he could not stop. Morrison-Newkirk alleged that Brown negligently failed to maintain his vehicle. Brown settled for his policy limit of $15,000, according to Fonseca.
Morrison-Newkirk claimed she sustained injuries to her cervical and lumbar spine, leading to ongoing neck pain, numbness and tingling in her left arm, and intermittent spasms in her lower back.
She lodged an under-insured motorist claim against her auto carrier, Liberty Mutual, which defended Brown’s position at trial, Fonseca said, noting that she had to overcome the verbal threshold. At trial, he said, Liberty Mutual contended that Morrison-Newkirk was not injured in the accident and had pre-existing conditions, while Morrison-Newkirk sought to prove she was permanently injured in the accident.
According to Fonseca, Liberty Mutual stipulated to Brown’s liability during jury selection, and offered $7,000 to settle the UIM claim, which was declined. After an eight-day trial before Essex County Superior Court Judge Garry Furnari, the six-member jury unanimously found that Morrison-Newkirk had an objective permanent injury caused by the November 2014 accident, and awarded $500,000 in total: $485,000 for pain and suffering to Morrison-Newkirk, and $15,000 on her husband’s per quod claim.
Liberty Mutual was directed to pay $235,000, which was the policy limit less a $15,000 credit for the settlement already paid by Brown. The amount of the verdict also triggered the offer of judgment rule, and Liberty Mutual was ordered to pay about $136,000 in attorney fees and $20,000 in costs, plus $13,000 in interest, making the total judgment $404,802, Fonseca said.
Liberty Mutual’s counsel, Mary Chen of Viscomi & Lyons in Morristown, declined to comment on the case.