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Date of Verdict:

Sept. 28.

Court and Case No.:

C.P. Allegheny No. GD-14-016095.

Judge:

Arnold I. Klein.

Type of Action:

Motor vehicle.

Injuries:

Leg amputation.

Plaintiffs Counsel:

Joseph R. Froetschel, The Law Offices of Gismondi & Associates; Pittsburgh.

Defense Counsel:

Gregory A. Evashavik, Evashavik, DiLucente & Tetlow, Pittsburgh.

Plaintiffs Expert:

Dr. Mary Miknevich, physical medicine, Pittsburgh.

Comment:

On June 6, 2014, plaintiff Joan Grove, 59, an accountant, was struck by a bus while walking across Montour Way at Sixth Avenue, in Pittsburgh.

A vehicle on Montour Way had been stopped at the intersection, waiting to turn onto Sixth Avenue; however, it was traveling in the wrong direction on Montour Way, a narrow, one-way street.

As Grove began to walk across Montour Way, she stepped outside the crosswalk to avoid the vehicle when she was struck from behind, on the left side, by a Port Authority of Allegheny County bus. She was knocked down and her right leg was run over. Her leg was later amputated.

Grove sued the port authority, alleging that it was negligent in the operation of a vehicle. Her counsel faulted the bus driver for failing to keep a proper lookout and failing to see Grove, who claimed she had remained within the curb-line of Montour Way.

A pedestrian and a bus passenger who witnessed the accident testified about how Grove was struck. The pedestrian estimated that Grove was about two feet outside the crosswalk (which would have been approximately on the curb-line of Montour Way).

Grove’s counsel argued that Sixth Avenue, in the direction the bus was traveling, was one lane (the accident occurred on a weekday, when no vehicles were parked on the avenue); therefore, the bus was driving too close to the curb when it struck Grove.

According to the port authority, Sixth Avenue in that direction was historically two lanes, although no paint demarcated the lanes. Moreover, the port authority maintained, Grove had been walking outside the crosswalk and onto Sixth Avenue and therefore was contributorily negligent. The bus driver testified that part of Grove’s body was in Sixth Avenue.

The port authority relied on testimony of a pedestrian-witness, who testified that Grove stepped into Sixth Avenue and the path of the bus.

Grove was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where she underwent emergent surgery to repair the crush injury to her lower right leg. An external fixator was implanted.

During her initial three weeks hospitalized, Grove had multiple skin grafts, tissue donations, debridements, and irrigations for her leg. She was then transferred to a skilled-nursing facility, and for the following months she transferred back and forth from there and the hospital due to complications of her leg injury, resulting in multiple infection-related procedures.

Grove eventually developed osteomyelitis (infection in the bone), and her leg was amputated below the knee. She spent another two to three months at the skilled-nursing facility, where she learned how to walk with a prosthesis. Upon discharge, she continued outgoing rehabilitation.

Grove’s physiatrist testified about her injury, treatment, limitations, and future treatment. She requires prosthetic replacements (estimated at $20,000 to $30,000, every three years) and ongoing physical therapy and wound care. Although her amputation was below the knee, it was not a clean cut, which caused her to suffer from regular skin breakdowns and infection, according to the expert.

Grove was able to return to work after missing nine months. Her counsel asserted that she faces a shortened work life. She sought damages for past and future lost earnings.

Grove testified about the constant pain that she experiences and how difficult it is to walk. Since she can only wear the prosthesis for so long, she immediately takes it off after coming home from work. She said that she no longer is able to pursue her pre-accident, active lifestyle, which included walking, hiking, and dancing. She sought damages for past and future pain and suffering.

The port authority did not dispute Grove’s injuries and damages.

The jury found Grove 50 percent liable and the port authority 50 percent liable. Grove was determined to receive $2,731,000. Because the port authority is a governmental entity, the amount determined by the jury is subject to a statutory cap, which reduces the amount to $250,000.

This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff’s and defense counsel.

— This report first appeared in VerdictSearch, an ALM publication. •