verdicts-and-settlements-article

Hasan v. Figaro 

$6,608 Verdict

Date of Verdict: June 13.

Court and Case No.: C.P. Philadelphia No. 170301383.

Judge: Karen Shreeves-Johns.

Type of Action: Motor vehicle.

Injuries: Back, knee, neck injuries.

Plaintiffs Counsel: Thomas F. Sacchetta; Sacchetta & Baldino.

Plaintiffs Experts: Terry P. Leslie, vocational rehabilitation; Lancaster; Dr. William C. Murphy, physical medicine; Media.

Defense Counsel: Lance D. James; SEPTA Legal Department; Philadelphia.

Defense Experts:  Gary S. Barach, economics, Philadelphia; Andrew H. Shaer, neuroradiology, Jenkintown; Ronald N. Rosenfeld, orthopedic surgery, Broomall; Rosalyn Pierce, vocational rehabilitation, Philadelphia.

Comment:

On March 23, 2015, plaintiff Hanan Hasan, a business owner in her mid-50s, was driving on Spring Garden Street at Kelly Drive, in Philadelphia, when her sedan was rear-ended by a SEPTA bus. She claimed injuries to her neck, back and left knee.

Hasan sued bus-driver Vincent Figaro, alleging that he was negligent in the operation of a vehicle. Hasan’s counsel faulted Figaro for failing to maintain a safe distance.

According to Figaro, Hasan and the SEPTA bus had been stopped at a red light. After the light turned green, Hasan proceeded forward but then stopped abruptly, for no reason, which caused the bus to strike Hasan’s car. The defense cited surveillance footage taken from the bus which showed Hasan’s vehicle stopping abruptly. The defense maintained that Hasan was contributorily negligent for the collision.

Despite Figaro’s testimony and the surveillance footage, Hasan denied that she stopped short in her car.

The next day, Hasan, complaining of pain to her neck, low-back, left knee and right, dominant shoulder, presented to an emergency room, where she was examined and released. The next day, Hasan presented to a rehabilitation facility, where she treated with physical therapy, which included massage and exercise, through July 22. She underwent imaging studies and was diagnosed with herniations and protrusions at cervical intervertebral discs C3-4 and C6-7, right-sided radiculopathy stemming from C3-4 and strains and sprains to her right shoulder, left knee and lumbar spine. Following her course of physical therapy, no further treatment was rendered. She sought to recover $6,608 in medical expenses.

Hasan’s expert in physical medicine casually related her injuries and treatment to the accident. The expert opined that her prognosis was poor and her injuries were permanent. According to the expert, Hasan requires future treatment, including physical therapy, estimated at $250 to $350 per session; injection therapy, at $750 to $1,000 per injection; and neck surgery, at $40,000 to $60,000.

Hasan, who had been an owner of a food-vending truck business, stopped working in June 2016, due to her claimed injuries. Her expert in vocational rehabilitation opined that Hasan was permanently disabled, and that she sustained $271,422 in past and future lost earnings and fringe benefits.

Hasan testified that her ongoing neck pain prevents her from lifting objects over 10 pounds and performing repetitive movements. She also said that she can no longer garden. She sought to recover damages for past and future pain and suffering.

The defense challenged Hasan’s claimed injuries. An expert in orthopedic surgery, who examined Hasan and performed a records review, testified that she may have sustained soft-tissue injuries, but disputed any injuries to her cervical spine. According to the expert, Hasan’s imaging studies showed multi-level degenerative disc disease associated with spondylosis and osteophytes, with no evidence of a traumatic injury. This opinion was supported by the defense’s expert in neuroradiology, who confirmed that there were osteophytes from disc C3-4 to C7-T1, and no evidence of a traumatic injury.

The defense maintained that Hasan made the unilateral decision to stop working, since none of her treating physicians had determined that she was unable to work. The defense’s expert in vocational rehabilitation determined that Hasan was not permanently disabled. According to the expert, since she had earned just above minimum wage at her previous job, she could easily find a job with equal or higher pay. The defense’s expert in economics determined that Hasan sustained no economical loss.

The defense further noted that, in October 2015, Hasan came under the care of a new family doctor. According to counsel, Hasan, in the year since treating with the physician, had made no mention of the accident, her injuries or the related treatment that she had undergone.

The jury found Hasan and Figaro each 50 percent liable. Hasan was determined to receive $6,608, which was accordingly reduced to $3,304.

 

This report is based on information that was provided by defense counsel. Plaintiffs counsel did not respond to calls for comment.

—This report first appeared in VerdictSearch, an ALM publication