Vitez v. Inclinator Co. of America

 

Defense Verdict

 

Date of Verdict:

 

October 23, 2012.

 

Court and Case No.:

 

C.P. Dauphin No. 4554 CV 2002.

 

Judge:

 

John F. Cherry.

 

Type of Action:

 

Motor vehicle.

 

Injuries:

 

Concussion, lost tooth.

 

Plaintiffs Counsel:

 

Karl R. Hildabrand, Lavery Faherty Patterson, Harrisburg.

 

Defense Counsel:

 

Stephen L. Banko, Margolis Edelstein, Camp Hill, Pa.

 

Plaintiffs Experts:

 

Dr. Robert A. Levine, periodontology, Philadelphia; Dr. James E. Sioma, family medicine, Lewisberry, Pa.

 

Defense Experts:

 

Dr. Alexandre Balaci, oral and maxillofacial surgery, Dr. Heidi L. Myshin, prosthodontics, Harrisburg.

 

Comment:

 

A Dauphin County jury issued a defense verdict in a case where the defendants’ attorney admitted negligence but disputed his clients’ role as the factual cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.

 

According to attorney Stephen L. Banko, the plaintiff’s credibility in Vitez v. Inclinator Co. of America was a big component of his defense.

 

According to Banko, plaintiff William B.C. Vitez’s fact pattern was based on his own "whisper-down-the-lane" account to a number of the witnesses whom he put on to testify on his behalf. One of the injuries claimed in the lawsuit was to the same tooth that Banko said the plaintiff injured after he was pistol-whipped during a robbery in 1973.

 

Banko said the jury did not find defendant Tonya M. Mace’s admitted negligence to be a factual cause of any injuries Vitez had, clearing Mace and her employer, Inclinator Co. of America.

 

Vitez, according to court papers, was a car salesman when Mace rear-ended a car in which Vitez was accompanying a customer on a test drive in October 2000.

 

"The defense theory was that this guy simply was not hurt and that his presentation was inconsistent and that his statements to his doctors were not complete," Banko said.

 

Karl R. Hildabrand, Vitez’s attorney, did not return calls requesting comment.

 

Banko said the jury was out for just about an hour-and-a-half after a two-day trial in October.

 

The case was an appeal from a $50,000 arbitration award entered in favor of Vitez and his wife, Dawn A. Vitez.

 

According to a plaintiffs court filing, Vitez was thrown against the right rear door and window of the car as a result of the collision. The pretrial memorandum said Vitez immediately experienced head, neck and back pain and bruising on his cheek. One of his teeth was knocked loose in the accident, the plaintiffs pled.

 

He was diagnosed at a hospital with cervical and thoracic strain, a head contusion and other injuries, according to court papers.

 

The filing also alleged Vitez suffered blurred vision and persistent dental problems.

 

Banko said he pointed out to the jury that one of Vitez’s witnesses was a dentist with whom the plaintiff was friends. He added that the dentist was issuing reports on causation before he entered into the physician-patient relationship with Vitez.

 

Also key in the result, according to Banko, was testimony proffered by Vitez in another lawsuit over an accident at a department store where his arm had gotten caught in an automatic door. In that case, Banko said, Vitez claimed at a deposition he did not have neck or back problems."Yet he was making neck or back injury claims in [this] case," Banko said.

 

The verdict came down in October and was announced by the court earlier this month.