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1 personal injury Year Book Connecticut s largest plaintiff/defense verdicts and settlements 2013 March 2014 A Special Supplement To The Connecticut Law Tribune

2 Giving Victims a Voice Bartlett (203) Burns, LLC would like to congratulate FRANK C. BARTLETT, JR. on his 2013 verdicts and results. Bradley v. Long Wharf Drive Frohloff v. Demkowicz Wood v. Club, LLC* *Featured in 2010 Personal Injury Yearbook, Judgment Affirmed by Connecticut Supreme Court Giving Victims a Voice Giving (203) Victims a Voice (203) Bartlett Burns, LLC accepts referrals at all stages of litigation, from inception through appeal.

3 Editor s Note: The devil, they say, is in the details. And so the one noticeable change in this year s Connecticut Law Tribune Personal Injury Yearbook is that we ve tried to include more details for each case. By allowing the case summaries to run longer, we hope trial lawyers will be able to see the key ways in which one motor vehicle, or slip and fall, or medical malpractice, or dram shop law case differs from the others. And thus, why judges or juries may have priced them differently or in the case of defense verdicts, declined to put a price on them at all. Truth in advertising: The longer descriptions of each case led us to make a slight reduction in the number of cases summarized. The biggest impact was on the plaintiffs verdicts, where we focused exclusively on more than 30 cases with damages of $150,000 or more. Still, we ve summarized nearly 90 cases of all types in the yearbook, so we think you are getting your money s worth. As always, there are some boilerplate explanations and caveats in order. The information for the cases summarized comes from the Law Tribune s own reporting for our weekly newspaper and from Verdict Search, an online company that shares the same corporate parent (ALM) as the Law Tribune. We make no claim that this represents all or even most of the personal injury cases resolved in Connecticut in It is simply a cross-section designed to offer trial attorneys an overview of the PI landscape. More and more cases are ending in confidential settlements. You won t see any of those here. While we fully trust the law firms we deal with regularly to give us accurate information about such cases, we fear publishing such results could open the door to less scrupulous people feeding us bogus cases or altering the facts of a case significantly with no way for us to check on it. The plaintiffs verdicts and settlements are listed by dollar amounts, from high to low. For the plaintiffs verdicts, it s important to note that the dollar figure listed is the one that was awarded by the jury. Any offsets, such as for comparative negligence or workers compensation liens, are mentioned elsewhere in the case summary. The defense verdicts are listed in chronological order, with the January verdicts first and December verdicts last. As always, we end this note with a singular and sincere request. As important as the Personal Injury Yearbook is, the weekly Law Tribune newspaper (and our website) is the heart and soul of what we do. We would really like to publish even more articles about personal injury cases and other types of civil litigation throughout the course of the year. You can help by letting us know about case results. Just contact or Paul Sussman Editor-In-Chief Plaintiff Verdicts... Page 2 Settlements... Page 19 Defense Verdicts... Page Asylum Street, Suite 402 Hartford, CT (860) Publisher Jeffrey L. Forte Editor-In-Chief Paul Sussman Managing Editor Jay Stapleton Reporter Christian Nolan Senior Case Digester Lucia J. Wolgast Case Digester Anne Victoria Canevari Web Editor Karen Ali Contributing Writers Mark Dubois, Amy Goodusky, Dan Krisch, Norm Pattis, Chris Powell Contributing Photographer Gary Lewis Art Director Andrea Boden Classified Advertising Mitch Cohn Law Firm Advertising Kris Peterson-Browning Advertising Coordinator Vanessa Hayward Law Book Sales Gamal Breedy Director of Books Linda Manahan Books Editor Bridget Bosworth Business Manager Heather Granger Reprint Representative Denise Petratos Group Publisher Robert S. Steinbaum John Balzano Victor Bolden Joyce Chen Proloy K. Das Robert Farr Eugene Fidell Timothy Fisher Elizabeth Gilson Rachel Goldberg Robert Holzberg Wesley W. Horton David King James B. Lyon Editorial Board Chair: Joette Katz Vice Chair: Dwight H. Merriam 120 Broadway New York, N.Y (212) President/CEO SVP/Chief Operating Officer SVP/Chief Financial Officer SVP/Chief Marketing Officer SVP/Digital VP/Editor-in-Chief SVP/Sales VP/Real Estate Media General Counsel Members: Eugene Marconi Sean McElligott Margaret Middleton Robert Mitchell Alan Neigher Louis R. Pepe Thomas B. Scheffey Mark Soboslai Michael Stratton Marilyn N. Toland Thomas J. Ullmann Diane Whitney Steven Wizner Bill Carter Kevin H. Michielsen Eric F. Lundberg Lenny Izzo Jeff Litvack Aric Press Kevin J. Vermeulen Michael Desiato Elisa Miller Connecticut Law Tribune (ISSN ) is published weekly by Law Tribune Newspapers, 11 Asylum Street, Suite 402, Hartford, CT, Periodicals postage paid at Hartford, CT. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Connecticut Law Tribune, c/o ALM Media Properties Customer Service, 120 Broadway, New York, NY Basic Annual Subscription price is $435. Single copies are $10. Group rates may apply. Copyright ALM Media Properties, LLC. All rights reserved. Duplication without permission is prohibited. Personal Injury Yearbook March

4 Plaintiff Verdicts VERDICT: $41,750,000 Case: Orson D. Munn III and Christine Munn, as Parents and Next Friends of C.M., and Individually v. The Hotchkiss School Venue: U.S. District Court, New Haven Judge: Stefan R. Underhill Date: March 27, 2013 Antonio Ponvert III; Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder; Bridgeport Plaintiff Experts Gary Crakes; Ph.D.; Economics; Cheshire Jeff Blank; Ph.D.; Vocational Rehabilitation; Monroe Larry Forman; ; Life Care Planning; New York, N.Y. Peter Tarlow; PhD; Travel Industry; College Station, Texas Andrew Yuan; D.O.; Physical Therapy; Bridgeport Robert Tepley; Ph.D.; Neuropsychology; Norwalk Stuart Rose; M.D.; Infectious Diseases; Northampton, Mass. s Penny Q. Seaman; Wiggin and Dana; New Haven Jessica Vetter; Wiggin and Dana; New Haven Michael McGinley; Wiggin and Dana; Stamford Defense Experts Jack Dahlberg; Life Care Planning; Denver Kerry Skillin; Vocational Rehabilitation; Springfield, Mass. Robert Novak; Entomology/Insects; Birmingham, Ala. Durland Fish; Epidemiology; New Haven Richard Heaps; Economics; Burlington, Vt. Summary: In summer 2007, plaintiff Cara I. Munn, 15, traveled to China on an educational trip sponsored by The Hotchkiss School, a private school in New Haven. Cara and other students suffered insect bites while hiking in rural areas. Cara had a severe reaction to the bites and developed acute viral encephalitis, which damaged her brain. Orson Munn III and Christine Munn, on behalf of their daughter, sued Hotchkiss. The Munns claimed the school failed to alert the student or her family that she would be taken to a mosquito-and tick-infested area outside of urban areas. They also claimed the school did not require students to take proper precautions, including requiring them to wear protective clothing and use insect repellent. The plaintiff s travel expert testified that the school had a duty and responsibility to know about the risks of harm to the children and to protect them against the risks. The plaintiffs travel medicine expert testified that there was a risk of insect-borne disease in Tiajin province, where the school took the children. The expert further testified that the standard of care required that the school know about and warn the children about the risk. The expert testified that the standard of care also required the school to take necessary precautions against the risk such as using insect repellent, wearing proper clothing, and checking oneself for ticks. Defense counsel argued that the risk of insect-transmitted diseases was so rare that it was not foreseeable to the school, and therefore the school had no duty to warn the children or protect them against disease. Injuries: Cara was flown back to the United States for treatment and taken to the pediatric intensive care unit at Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City, where she was hospitalized for weeks. She was able to make only a few high-pitched noises. She had slow and hesitant movements involving the tongue, marked drooling, and rigidity of the jaw and cervical muscles. She then had six weeks of rehabilitation therapy at Rusk Institute in New York. She underwent intensive, ongoing physical, speech and occupational therapy. Cara remains unable to speak but a few words with any clarity. She has cramping in her right arm when she tries to write. She also has difficulty eating, drinking, swallowing and controlling saliva. She also claimed she sustained emotional distress. She receives psychotherapy to help her adjust to her disabilities. The plaintiffs experts testified that Cara suffered brain damage, will have disabilities for the rest of her life and will need extensive rehabilitation and medical and therapeutic care. The experts said her inability to speak will severely limit her employment options. The plaintiffs economist estimated her future costs of care at $7.2 million and lost earnings at between $2 million and $3 million. Defense counsel argued that the cost of Cara s future care for the 66 years of her life expectancy would be $670,000 and that she is able to live independently in the community and become fully employed. Verdict/Breakdown: After an eight-day trial, the jury deliberated for eight hours before rendering a plaintiffs verdict. The damages totaled $41.75 million. Of that, $450,000 was for past medical costs, $9.8 million was for future care and lost earnings capacity and $31.5 million was for future noneconomic damages. Settlement Negotiations: Demand: $12 million Offer: $700,000 Post-Verdict: The defense appealed the verdict, seeking a new trial and a $26.5 million reduction in damages. VERDICT: $28,600,000 Case: Mary Margaret Farren v. J. Michael Farren Venue: Stamford-Norwalk Judicial District Judge: Robert L. Genuario Date: December 17, 2013 s Paul A. Slager; Silver Golub & Teitell; Stamford Ernest F. Teitell; Silver Golub & Teitell; Stamford Plaintiff Experts Albert Sabella; M.S., QRC; Vocational Rehabilitation; Providence, R.I. Steven Shapiro; Ph.D.; Economics; Woodbridge J. Michael Farren (pro se) Defense Expert Stephen Sarfaty; Neuropsychology; Cheshire 2 Personal Injury Yearbook March 2014

5 Summary: On Jan. 6, 2010, plaintiff Mary Margaret Farren, 47, an attorney, alleged that her then-husband, J. Michael Farren, brutally attacked her two days after she served him with divorce papers. Mr. Farren, also an attorney, was former general counsel of Xerox Corp. and deputy White House counsel serving under President George W. Bush. Mrs. Farren claimed she sustained a traumatic brain injury and facial fractures from the assault. Mrs. Farren sued Mr. Farren, bringing causes of action for assault and battery, as well as intentional infliction of emotional distress. Mrs. Farren claimed that on the evening of Jan. 6, 2010, her husband went berserk and physically attacked her at their New Canaan mansion. She claimed Mr. Farren choked her, punched her, and ripped out chunks of her hair, culminating with his striking her in the head with a Maglight flashlight. Mrs. Farren claimed she was able to push a security button in her bedroom to alert the authorities before taking her 7-year-old and 4-month-old daughters in her car and driving away from the home. Mr. Farren represented himself pro se; however, he did not appear at trial following jury selection and had his video deposition testimony played for the jury. On the day of opening arguments, Mrs. Farren s counsel filed a motion for default due to Mr. Farren s failure to appear in court. The motion was granted, and the matter continued to trial. Injuries: Mrs. Farren was taken to the hospital on the evening of the assault. She had sustained a traumatic brain injury as well as facial lacerations and fractures to her mandible and cheekbone. She underwent acute care for her injuries. Mrs. Farren claimed her head injury left her with headaches, memory loss and vestibular deficits. She further claimed she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. She has not returned to work as an attorney. Verdict/Breakdown: After an eight-day trial, the jury deliberated for one hour before awarding Mrs. Farren $28.6 million in damages. Of that amount, $8.6 million was for economic damages and $20 million was for noneconomic damages. VERDICT: $25,000,000 Case: Melvin Gordils and Maria Gordils v. State of Connecticut Venue: Fairfield Judicial District Judge: Dale Radcliffe Date: March 12, 2013 s Michael A. Stratton; Stratton Faxon; New Haven Joel T. Faxon; Stratton Faxon; New Haven Plaintiff Experts Gary Crakes; Ph.D.; Economics; Cheshire Dante Brittis; M.D.; Orthopedic Surgery; Fairfield Peter Fearon; Police Practices and Procedures; Westport Robert Novelly; Ph.D.; Neuropsychology; Norwalk Michael Cei; Accident Reconstruction; Wallingford Lawrence Forman; M.D.; Physical Rehabilitation; Miami, Fla. s James E. Coyne; Coyne, von Kuhn, Brady & Fries; Stratford Colleen D. Fries; Coyne, von Kuhn, Brady & Fries; Stratford Defense Experts Marc Bayer; Toxicology; Farmington Robert Powers; Toxicology; Meriden William Vliet; Accident Reconstruction Insurers American International Group Everest National Insurance Co. Summary: On May 29, 2010, plaintiff Melvin Gordils, 45, a restaurant owner, was driving southbound on Connecticut Route 8, near Exit 2 in Bridgeport, when his car ran out of gas. Gordils became stranded on the side of the highway, and was attempting to cross the road when a police cruiser operated by state trooper Darren Pavlik traveling southbound on Route 8 struck him. Pavlik initially left the scene of the accident before returning to find Gordils lying in the breakdown lane. Gordils suffered an amputation to his right leg, as well as injuries to his left leg, brain, chest, upper extremities and internal organs. Gordils sued the State of Connecticut, alleging that as the employer of Pavlik, the state was liable for Pavlik s negligent, careless and reckless operation of his vehicle, which caused his injuries. The Gordilses claimed Pavlik was driving at an unreasonable rate of speed, more than 100 mph, without any lights or sirens, in violation of state police procedures. They further claimed Pavlik failed to timely brake his vehicle and/or failed to swerve in an attempt to avoid the collision. The couple claimed that after the accident Pavlik did not pull over and instead inexplicably left the scene, abandoning Gordils. The plaintiffs claimed Pavlik drove around the streets of Bridgeport so that his in-car camera would not save the video of the collision, thereby eliminating all video evidence of the accident. Gordils claimed that when Pavlik Chip Darius, MA, OHST, CET, EMT Toll-free Cromwell, CT Over 20 years experience OSHA safety consulting & training. Certified Walkway Auditor Safety Specialist, NFSI. Safety Expert Forklifts Amputations Slips, Trips & Falls Over 10 years OSHA Training Institute Education Center Faculty. Frequent conference speaker, webinar presenter. Construction Utilities Industry Personal Injury Yearbook March

6 returned, instead of administering first aid, the trooper began interrogating him about the accident. The plaintiffs also argued that after the accident was investigated by Pavlik s in-house supervisor, Sgt. John Jacobi, no discipline of any type was administered to Pavlik, despite his allegedly 100 mph reckless driving in a 40 mph zone. The state claimed Pavlik was roving and was permitted by statute to drive what he claimed was 60 mph to 70 mph in a 40 mph zone, in order to enforce traffic laws. The state also claimed Gordils was intoxicated with a 0.26 blood alcohol content at the time of the accident, three times over the legal limit, and was using the highway recklessly as a pedestrian. Gordils countered that the hospital-administered BAC test was unreliable, given the severity of his amputation and tissue injuries, which can skew the reading. He further claimed that since the traffic on the highway was very light, it was reasonable for him to cross the road in the direction of his home, which was approximately three-quarters of a mile away. Injuries: Gordils right leg was completely severed above the knee, requiring approximately 25 surgical procedures. He also sustained severe crush injuries and nerve damage to his lower left leg, and he sustained a fractured left pelvis and injuries to his internal organs, resulting in significant internal bleeding. He also claimed a traumatic brain injury from the accident. Gordils claimed $1.2 million in past medical costs, and asked the jury for in excess of $5 million for future medical costs, including full-time attendant care. Gordils further sought between $750,000 and $2.1 million in lost earnings and earning capacity, as well as damages for his pain and suffering. Verdict/Breakdown: The jury found Pavlik 65 percent at fault for the accident and Gordils 35 percent at fault. It determined that the plaintiffs damages totaled $25 million, which was reduced by 35 percent, to $16.25 million, due to the comparative negligence finding. Of the $25 million total, the jury awarded $1.2 million for past medical costs, $5.5 million for future medical costs, $1.3 million for loss of earning capacity, and $17 million for pain and suffering. Post-Trial: On Oct. 9, 2013, the parties settled for $9.8 million. VERDICT: $15,795,600 Case: Thomas Dugas, administrator of the estate of Lu-Ann Dugas; Aimee Held, co-administratrix of the estate of Fred Held; Samira Clough; Lynn Mariani; James Clark; Lancer Insurance Co.; and Southbay Trucking Corp. v. Northeast Carriers, Brendan McKeever, administrator of the estate of Perry M. Derry; Geiway Expedited Inc.; James F. Holloway; and Saveway Petroleum Venue: Hartford Judicial District Judge: Kevin Dubay Date: April 26, 2013 s Matthew Shafner; Groton; for Lu-Ann Dugas Carl Secola Jr.; Kinney Secola & Gunning; New Haven; for Fred Held Dina Fisher; Robinson & Cole; New Haven; for Samira Clough Peter Bartinik Jr.; Bartinik, Bartinik & Grater; Groton; for Lynn Mariani Shelley Graves; Faulkner & Graves; New London; for James Clark s Craig A. Fontaine; Fontaine Alissi; Hartford; for Northeast Carriers Paul Daly; Hardin, Kundla, McKeon & Poletto; Springfield, N.J., for Brendan McKeever, Northeast Carriers Christine DeFilippo; Milford; for Geiway Expedited Summary: On Nov. 2, 2007, Lu-Ann Dugas, 54, and Fred Held, 33, were killed in a multiple-vehicle collision on Interstate 95 in eastern Connecticut. Other individuals who were injured in the crash were plaintiffs James Clark, Samira Clough and Lynn Mariani. The accident occurred when a 78,000-pound tanker driven by defendant Peter Derry and owned by Northeast Carriers, a subsidiary of Saveway Petroleum, left the northbound lanes of I-95, crossed over the median near the I-395 exchange and entered the southbound lanes of I-95, near Exit 76. After crashing through the median guardrail, the tanker rolled down the highway, spewing fuel and colliding with all of the plaintiffs vehicles. Dugas was killed instantly when the roof of her car was smashed by the rig. Held s vehicle was crushed by defendants truck, but he did not die immediately, according to a witness who tried to save him. Clark, 27, the driver of a southbound tractor-trailer, suffered multiple fractures and head trauma. Clough also suffered multiple fractures and Mariani, who was carpooling with Clough, suffered a knee injury. Derry was also killed in the accident. Six separate lawsuits were filed and were consolidated for trial. The various plaintiffs filed suit against Northeast Carriers, Saveway Petroleum, the estate of Peter Derry, Geiway Expedited and James Holloway. A tractor-trailer owned by Geiway and driven by Holloway had reportedly been involved in a high-speed altercation with Derry just before the accident. Plaintiffs asserted that Derry and Holloway were negligent in the operation of their respective vehicles, which led to this accident. There were witness statements that Derry s truck was traveling approximately 75 mph to 80 mph at the time of the crash. According to a police report, Derry had methadone in his system at the time of the incident. Northeast Carriers admitted fault on the part of its driver, but claimed some of the fault should be attributed to Holloway. Geiway Expedited and Holloway denied liability and contended that Derry was solely responsible for the accident. Injuries: Dugas was killed instantly and Held died at the scene of the accident. Clark suffered extensive injuries, including foot, leg and rib fractures, a back injury and head trauma. He also claimed post-traumatic stress disorder. Clough suffered a vertebra fracture, a nose fracture, a tear in one shoulder and a foot fracture. Mariani suffered a knee injury and also claimed post-traumatic stress disorder. Verdict/Breakdown: Following a threeweek trial, the jury awarded $5.575 million to Clark; $2.218 million to Clough; $1,069,500 to Mariani; $3,673,100 to the estate of Dugas; $3.21 million to the estate of Held; and $50,000 to South Bay Trucking, the owners of the tractor-trailer that Clark was driving. Defendant Geiway Expedited settled with plaintiffs for $900,000. The jury attributed 100 percent liability to Derry and Northeast Carriers. VERDICT: $12,200,000 Case: Thomas Ventura v. Town of East Haven, et al Venue: New Haven Judicial District Judge: Robin Wilson Date: December 2013 s Michael Stratton; Stratton Faxon; New Haven Hugh Keefe; Lynch, Traub, Keefe & Errante; New Haven 4 Personal Injury Yearbook March 2014

7 Silver Golub & Teitell llp Congratulates our colleagues for these 2013 verdicts and settlements: Farren v. Farren Verdict of $28.6 million Attorneys: Ernie Teitell and Paul Slager Medical Malpractice Settlement of $9.5 million Attorneys: Ernie Teitell and Paul Slager Baby Doe v. Community Hospital Settlement of $6.5 million Attorneys: Richard A. Silver, Kathleen L. Brandt and Peter M. Dreyer Wrongful Death (Product Liability Claim) Settlement of $6 million Attorney: Peter M. Dreyer Note: Every case is different and these results are not intended to guarantee or predict future results in other areas. Celebrating our 36 th year as a trial law firm. Referrals invited. Silver Golub & Teitell LLP 184 Atlantic Street, Stamford, Connecticut T: (203) F: (203) CT Attorney Responsible for the Content of This Advertisement: Richard A. Silver, Esq. Personal Injury Yearbook March

8 Summary: Around midnight on Nov. 4, 2006, a 911 dispatcher received a call from a woman in the drive-thru lane at an East Haven McDonald s. The woman complained that a man, who turned out to be Vlad Trnka, had driven up fast behind her and just missed a rear-end collision. The woman said the man was shouting at a female passenger in his truck and appeared to be intoxicated or on drugs. While the caller was still speaking with the dispatcher, Trnka punched a hole in his windshield. The dispatcher told the woman to stay in the drive-thru so Trnka could not get away. Soon, two East Haven police officers arrived. Instead of impounding Trnka s vehicle, the officers decided to drive Trnka and the woman to their respective homes to sober up. But Trnka returned to the McDonald s to retrieve his truck. After a short stop at his girlfriend s house, he drove at high speed back to New Haven, where he lived. On Thompson Avenue, Trnka sideswiped a car that then-18-year-old Thomas Ventura was about to enter after leaving his girlfriend s home. Ventura was thrown 20 feet before landing on his head. Trnka fled the scene and police apprehended him a day later. He was convicted of evading responsibility and third-degree assault, and sentenced to serve 23 months in prison. Ventura s family filed suit against the East Haven police. If an employee is using his discretion and makes a decision resulting in an accident, the town and the employee are shielded from liability. It s when an employee fails to perform a nondiscretionary or ministerial task that negligence claims can be made. The defense argued that the police officers made a discretionary decision in how to deal with Trnka. The plaintiffs, however, said the police had a ministerial duty to impound Trnka s truck because the license plate was for a different vehicle. Injuries: Ventura suffered a small brain bleed and some cognitive impairments initially but no longer has any ill effects from the brain injury. The worst injuries were to his leg and abdominal area, which required 10 surgeries to repair. His abdominal injury cut off blood flow to his testes, and he is now unable to have children. Verdict/Breakdown: The jury awarded the plaintiff $12.2 million. Post-Trial: The defense indicated it would file a motion to set aside the verdict. Comment: With interest stemming from an earlier settlement offer, the plaintiff could collect as much as $15.85 million. VERDICT: $9,280,000 Case: Barbara Lathan v. Bridgeport Hospital Venue: Fairfield Judicial District Judge: Theodore R. Tyma Date: October 13, 2013 s Kathleen L. Nastri; Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder; Bridgeport Antonio Ponvert III; Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder; Bridgeport Plaintiff Experts Gary Yarkony; M.D.; Life Care Planning; Elgin, Ill. Peter Gross; M.D.; Internal Medicine; Boston s Bruce F. Gilpatrick; Heidell, Pittoni, Murphy & Bach; New York, N.Y. Elizabeth Cornacchio; Heidell, Pittoni, Murphy & Bach; New York, N.Y. Defense Experts Bruce Farber; Infectious Diseases; Manhasset, N.Y. Loren Greene; Endocrinology; New York, N.Y. Peter Schulman; Cardiology; Hartford Summary: On Oct. 7, 2007, plaintiff Barbara Lathan, 66, a retiree, went to Bridgeport Hospital for treatment of a urinary tract infection. A PIC line was inserted into Lathan s right arm and she subsequently developed deep vein thrombosis (DVT) at the site of the intravenous line. On Oct. 12, Lathan began receiving doses of Lovenox, an anticoagulant, to treat the DVT. She was administered six doses from Oct. 12 through Oct. 15. On Oct. 15, Lathan started to experience hemorrhaging in her retroperitoneal space. She was initially monitored and then coded the following day, resulting in three exploratory surgeries from Oct. 17 through Oct. 22 to remove blood and close up her abdomen. Lathan was then placed in the intensive care unit, where she subsequently developed a methicillinresistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection. She began receiving antibiotics, which caused her to develop C. difficile. She also developed bedsores. On Dec. 18, Lathan was discharged from the hospital, still receiving antibiotics for her MRSA infection, which also had caused osteomyelitis of her right clavicle. In spring 2008, she underwent surgery to remove a portion of the bone from her right clavicle due to the osteomyelitis. In addition, Lathan gained more than 100 pounds in water weight from fluids needed to resuscitate her, resulting in congestive heart failure. She further developed an incisional hernia in her abdomen, which was not treated surgically. Lathan claimed she is now confined to a wheelchair due to the physical limitations caused by the hernia. Lathan sued Bridgeport Hospital for negligence and malpractice. She alleged an overdose of Lovenox resulted in all of her subsequent medical complications and current physical condition. The plaintiff claimed defendant s failure to properly administer and monitor her Lovenox dosage fell outside the standard of care. Bridgeport Hosptial admitted liability before trial. Injuries: Lathan claimed she is now confined to a wheelchair due to an inability to stand because of the incisional hernia. She claimed the hernia remains painful, and that she consulted with two surgeons who claimed the hernia could not be surgically repaired. Lathan also has significant scarring from the multiple surgeries. She asked the jury for $18 million in total damages, including past and future medical costs and her pain and suffering. Bridgeport Hospital disputed the nature and extent of Lathan s claimed injuries and damages. The hospital claimed Lathan s disability was due to preexisting conditions and a history of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and orthopedic issues with her knees. The defendant asked the jury to award $2.8 million in damages to plaintiff. Verdict/Breakdown: After a 10-day trial, the jury awarded plaintiff $9.28 million. Of that, $280,000 was for past medical costs, $1 million was for future medical costs, $5 million was for past pain and suffering and $3 million was for future pain and suffering. Settlement Discussions: Demand: $7.7 million Offer: $3.5 million 6 Personal Injury Yearbook March 2014

9 VERDICT: $9,158,233 Case: Regina Canty, Administratrix of the Estate of Shamaia Smith v. Kenneth Otto Sr. Venue: Hartford Judicial District Judge: Trial Referee Richard Rittenband Date: November 2013 s Stephen McEleney; McEleney & McGrail; Hartford. Plaintiff Expert Gary Crakes; Economics; Cheshire Richard Dick Brown; Brown, Paindiris & Scott; Hartford Summary: The family of murder victim Shamaia Smith, of East Hartford, sued her convicted killer, Kenneth Otto Sr., of Ellington, and a Hartford judge trial referee awarded more than $9 million in damages. In 2007, Smith was a 22-year-old stripper at the Kahoots club in Vernon. On the afternoon of March 14, 2007, she left her parents house in East Hartford after telling her boyfriend she was going to work. Police later told Kenneth Otto s wife, Kathleen, that Smith had allegedly been working as a prostitute and had an ongoing relationship with the husband. Mr. Otto told police that he picked up Smith on March 14 and dropped her off at another Kahoots club in East Hartford, but denied knowing what happened to her afterward. Prosecutors, however, believe Otto drove Smith to his 75-acre property in Stafford that day, shot her in a trailer and burned her body in a fire pit. East Hartford police identified Otto as a possible suspect after listening to voic s he left for Smith. Authorities searched Otto s property on April 12, 2007, and found bullet shell casings, pieces of human tissue, bone fragments, teeth, part of a foot and a set of keys that investigator later determined belonged to Smith. Otto was charged with Smith s murder in May He was convicted in December 2008 and later sentenced to 60 years in prison. Even before Otto was convicted, Smith s estate filed civil lawsuits against Otto and his ex-wife, who had divorced him shortly after the killing. The estate alleged wrongful death against Otto and accused his wife of fraudulently transferring cash and property from her husband to herself. Verdict/Breakdown: Liability in the civil case against Otto was decided on Sept. 30, In early November, the two sides had a hearing on damages before Judge Trial Referee Richard Rittenband. In late November, Rittenband awarded the estate $9,158,233. Of that amount, $6.8 million was for noneconomic damages. VERDICT: $8,150,000 Case: Deborah Arbucci and Deanna Arbucci v. Ronald Haberern and Wolverine Fire Protection Co. Venue: Hartford Judicial District JUDGE: Carl J. Schuman DATE: May 27, 2013 s Thomas P. Cella; Howard, Kohn, Sprague & FitzGerald; Hartford; for Deanna Arbucci Christopher J. Flood; Flood Law Firm; Middletown; for Deborah Arbucci Plaintiff Expert Kenneth Selig; Forensic Psychiatry; Glastonbury SF2-Pill.pdf 1 3/24/14 12:46 PM Congratulations to our members for their outstanding jury verdicts this year! Join CTLA now and secure your first Case Evaluation at half price C CASE STRATEGY & ANALYSIS SERVICE For details call the CTLA office (860) I recently used CTLA s Case Strategy & Analysis Service and found the panel to be extremely knowledgeable, helpful and generous in sharing their expertise. The meeting was extraordinarily helpful and inspiring, and I look forward to working with them on other cases. Eugene A. Skowronski, Esquire M Y CM MY CY CMY K Personal Injury Yearbook March

10 s Stephen P. Fogerty; Halloran & Sage; Westport Summary: On Feb. 15, 2010, plaintiff Deborah Arbucci, 48, a homemaker and farmer, was a passenger in a full-size pickup truck operated by her daughter, plaintiff Deanna Arbucci, 23, a student and farmer. They were traveling on state Route 85 toward Manchester when they were involved in a collision with another full-size pickup truck driven by defendant Ronald Haberern. The truck Haberern was driving was owned by his employer, defendant Wolverine Fire Protection Co. The collision occurred when Haberern, who had been traveling in the opposite direction of the plaintiffs, crossed the center line and collided head-on with plaintiffs pickup truck. Deborah Arbucci sustained multiple fractures and internal injuries. Her daughter suffered soft tissue injuries and also claimed post-traumatic stress disorder. The plaintiffs filed a motor vehicle negligence suit against both Haberern and Wolverine Fire Protection Co. They alleged Haberern was negligent in crossing the center line and failing to maintain proper control over his vehicle. They also asserted that Haberern would not cooperate with police on the investigation. The plaintiffs further alleged Wolverine was vicariously liable for Haberern s actions. The defendants did not dispute liability, only the amount of the damages Injuries: Deborah Arbucci sustained neck, back and arm fractures, as well as internal injuries. She required surgery for her neck fracture and also to remove part of her small intestine. She was in the hospital for one month before being transferred to a specialcare facility and then to a convalescent home. She claimed an ongoing need for narcotic pain medication on a daily basis. Deanna Arbucci sustained soft tissue neck, back, right arm, right shoulder and left knee injuries. She was subsequently diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome, which affects her right arm. She also asserted that she developed post-traumatic stress disorder, which evolved into severe depression. Verdict/Breakdown: After a one-week trial, the jury awarded $6.05 million to Deborah Arbucci and $2.1 million to Deanna Arbucci. Post-Trial: Defense counsel said it expected to file motions challenging the award. VERDICT: 6,500,000 Case: Jody Beardsley, Administrator for the Estate of Jeffrey Pattison, et al. v. Danbury Hospital Venue: Danbury Judicial District Judge: Sheila J. Ozalis Date: April 15, 2013 s Joshua Koskoff; Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder; Bridgeport Sean K. McElligott; Bridgeport, CT, for Jody Beardsley Plaintiff Expert Ronald Goldenburg, M.D.; Critical Care; New York, N.Y. R. Cornelius Danaher; Danaher Lagnese; Hartford Summary: On March 1, 2006, Jeffrey Pattison, 44, was admitted to Danbury Hospital in a semi-comatose state. He was diagnosed with dangerously low sodium levels and admitted to the intensive-care unit for treatment. A plan of care was established taking into consideration that sodium levels should not be raised too quickly. However, the treating physicians allegedly deviated from the plan. Pattison s sodium levels escalated too rapidly, resulting in a rare condition known as central pontine myelinolysis (CPM). Pattison suffered acute paralysis and was placed on life support. After two weeks without improvement, life support was withdrawn. Pattison died on March 16, The plaintiffs alleged that hospital personnel was reckless in failing to properly monitor Pattison s sodium levels during the administration of a sodium solution. They further claimed that staff failed to discontinue the treatment when Pattison s sodium levels escalated too quickly. Danbury Hospital denied negligence and contended that the care provided was reasonable and appropriate. Injuries: Pattison was the victim of rapid sodium infusion, resulting in toxic exposure and death. Verdict/Breakdown: After deliberating for more than four days, the jury awarded the plaintiffs $6.5 million. Of that amount, $3 million was for the decedent s pain and suffering, $3 million was for loss of enjoyment of life s activities, and $500,000 was for wrongful death. VERDICT: $4,326,556 Case: Monte Freire v. U.S.S. Chowder Pot III Venue: New Haven Judicial District Judge: Robert Young Date: June 25, 2013 Timothy P. Pothin; Stratton Faxon; New Haven Plaintiff Experts Donald Decker; Security/Premises Liability; Cedar Knolls, N.J. Robert Novelly; Ph.D.; Neuropsychology; Branford s Jan Trendowski; Trendowski & Allen; Centerbrook Summary: On Oct. 2, 2010, plaintiff Monte Freire, 45, a former kick boxer, was in the Branford area for a softball tournament. At approximately 10:45 p.m., Freire and six or seven of his teammates were at the U.S.S. Chowder Pot II restaurant. The group was in the bar area when another patron, John Mayor, started to make derogatory comments to them about their New England accents. Based on the accents, he assumed they were Boston Red Sox fans and were not welcome in New York Yankee territory. Freire and his group complained to the bartender but nothing was done. The group warned the bartender that Mayor was trying to make trouble by breaking into their conversations and shoving them. They approached the bartender a second time, but once again no one said anything to Mayor about his behavior. At that point, Freire approached Mayor at the bar and asked him what his problem was. Mayor then stabbed him in the neck with a knife. The bartender was smoking outside when the stabbing occurred. Freire filed suit against U.S.S. Chowder Pot II for negligent supervision. He alleged that the stabbing could have been prevented had the bartender chosen to intervene in some way. Mayor was not named as a defendant because he was serving a 10-year prison sentence for first-degree assault. The defendant contended that Mayor got up and went to the restroom after the bartender was advised of the behavior, following which Mayor sat in a different area of the bar. The defendant argued that the bartender thought the tension was decreasing. Injuries: The plaintiff was diagnosed with a severed external carotid artery and jugu- 8 Personal Injury Yearbook March 2014

11 lar vein, as well as a severed right vertebral artery. He remained in the hospital for two months. The incident left him with brain damage and permanent impairments, including general body weakness, especially to his right upper extremities. Further, he claimed posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, panic attacks and anxiety. He also had permanent scarring on his neck. Verdict/Breakdown: After a twoweek trial, the jury awarded the plaintiff $4,326,556. Of that amount, $826,556 was for past medical costs and $3.5 million was for noneconomic damages. Post-Trial: The defendant was planning to appeal the award. VERDICT: $3,948,000 Case: Gregoria Campos, et al. v. Robert Coleman, et al.: Venue: New Haven Judicial District Judge: Terence Zemetis Date: January 2013 s Donn Swift; Lynch, Traub, Keefe & Errante; New Haven John W. Jack Mills; Mills Law Firm; New Haven s John Kiernan; Bonner Kiernan; Boston Kenneth Naide, Bonner Kiernan; Boston Stephen P. Fogarty; Halloran & Sage; Westport Summary: The family of a West Haven man who was struck and killed by a hotel van filed a lawsuit against the hotel chain and the van s driver for wrongful death and loss of consortium. The man, José Mauricio Campos, 52, was from Honduras, where he was a medical doctor. He came to the U.S. in the 1980s with his wife and their three boys. On Sept. 15, 2008, Campos was riding a bicycle through a New Haven intersection when he was hit by a 15-passenger van driven by Robert Coleman, who shuttled patrons to and from a nearby La Quinta Inn. The van threw Campos 50 feet and he sustained massive head injuries upon landing on the pavement. Campos was taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital, underwent emergency surgery and died three days later. Although no one was in the van at the time and no one saw exactly what happened, Coleman was seen exiting the van holding his cell phone. Coleman claims he stopped at a stop sign before the intersection and was going 25 mph to 30 mph at the time of the accident, though the plaintiffs said one witness said he was going closer to 40 mph. Coleman said he swerved to try to avoid the impact. Police did not charge Coleman. He did, however, have alcohol in his system, though well under the legal limit of The plaintiffs attorneys would later present an expert witness saying it was enough alcohol to impair judgment and peripheral vision. Campos wife sued Coleman and La Quinta Inn for wrongful death and loss of consortium. Defense lawyers challenged the testimony of two doctors regarding the blood alcohol levels, since it was within the legal limit for driving. The defense made an unsuccessful pretrial motion to disallow the testimony. Defense lawyers further argued that Campos could have prevented his death by wearing a helmet. State law does not require adults to wear helmets while riding a bicycle, and the judge prevented the defense from making that argument. Bradford J. Sullivan Attorney At Law Michael A. D Amico Michael A. D Amico Michael A. D Amico Mark F. Griffin Mark F. Griffin Mark F. Griffin Thomas P. Pettinicchi Thomas P. Pettinicchi Thomas P. Pettinicchi Brendan Faulkner Brendan Faulkner Brendan Faulkner Christine Norton Christine Norton Christine Norton Sullivan Heiser & Sweeney 4 Post Office Square Clinton, Connecticut T Personal Injury Yearbook March 2014 We welcome all personal injury and We medical welcome negligence all matrimonial referrals, including law, nursing home negligence, and always personal We welcome protect injury, your all medical financial personal interests. malpractice injury and and medical nursing negligence referrals, including nursing We welcome home home negligence referrals. all negligence, personal injury and always and medical protect 465 Straits negligence Turnpike your financial referrals, Phone interests. (860) including Watertown, nursing CT Toll Free (866) home negligence, and always Fax (860) protect your AV Rated financial by Martindale-Hubbell interests Straits Turnpike Phone (860) Watertown, CT Toll Free (866) Straits Turnpike Phone Fax (860) (860) AV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell Watertown, CT Toll Free (866) Straits Turnpike Phone Fax (860) Watertown, CT AV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell Toll Free (866) Fax (860)

12 At trial, the defense also contested liability, arguing that Campos was responsible for the crash. They said he had violated the state s stop-sign statute by proceeding into the intersection when it was not reasonably safe to do so. Injuries: Campos died from massive head injuries. Verdict/Breakdown: After a two-week trial, jurors decided that Coleman was 58 percent liable for Campos death and Campos was 42 percent at fault. The jury awarded $2.948 million for the wrongful death claim and $1 million for loss of consortium. When factoring in comparative negligence, the family was left with just under $2.3 million. Post-Trial: The defense team filed a posttrial motion to set aside the verdict. It also has requested a new trial. VERDICT: $3,880,000 Case: Gary Birkhamshaw, Administrator of the Estate of George Upton Jr., and Julie Upton v. Joseph Socha & United Parcel Service Venue: New London Superior Court Judge: Susan Peck Date: February 2013 s Kevin C. Ferry; New Britain Stephen M. Reck; North Stonington James Gordon; Ansa Assuncao; Columbus, Ohio. Summary: The family of a man who was killed after his pickup was struck by a UPS tractor-trailer filed a lawsuit in New London Superior Court. On Nov. 23, 2010, George M. Upton Jr. was headed to work at Trimac Transportation, where he drives a tanker carrying liquid oxygen. Sometime after 2:30 a.m., Upton navigated through patchy fog on I-395 South in Norwich. He was about 600 feet from Exit 82, heading down the right lane at 50 mph in his Ford Ranger, when an 80,000-pound United Parcel Service tractor-trailer driven by Joseph Socha smashed into the rear of the pickup at an estimated 67 mph. The impact sent Upton s truck over the guardrail. It took out a light pole, went down a hill and hit some trees. Upton was ejected from the truck and pronounced dead after emergency responders located his body. Socha claimed Upton swerved from the left lane to the right. Plaintiffs attorney Kevin Ferry said State Police inexplicably did not conduct an accident reconstruction investigation, apparently believing Socha s version of what happened. The plaintiffs lawyers speculated that police didn t question the truck driver thoroughly because he was a leader of the local Democratic Party. The defense hired its own accident reconstruction expert who testified as to the lane change theory. But the judge later told the jury to disregard the lane change explanation as a defense, saying there was insufficient evidence to support it. The plaintiffs said phone records revealed that Socha had made 60 calls during his 12- hour shift, dozens of which were personal calls made while he was behind the wheel. At the time of the accident, Socha was 11.5 hours into the 12-hour shift. The plaintiffs attorneys filed a lawsuit against Socha and UPS for negligence and recklessness. They asked the jury for $10 million in damages. Injuries: Upton was killed in the accident. Verdict/Breakdown: The jury deliberated for more than four hours before awarding $3.88 million in damages, including $1.875 million for a loss of consortium claim brought by Upton s wife. Post-Verdict: The defense filed a motion to set aside the verdict. VERDICT: $3,776,543 Case: Janet Fleming, Administratrix of the Estate of Thomas Fleming v. Gregory Dionisio Venue: Stamford-Norwalk Judicial District Judge: Bruce Hudock Date: April 11, 2013 Jeffrey M. Cooper; Cooper Sevillano; Bridgeport Peter O Keefe; Jackson O Keffe; Hartford Summary: The estate and widow of a man who was killed by a drunken driver was awarded nearly $3.8 million, including damages for loss of consortium, by a Stamford jury. The verdict further included an award for punitive damages after the jury determined that the plaintiff had proven statutory recklessness. Thomas Fleming, a 50-year-old carpenter, was riding his motorcycle on Ridgefield Road around 7 a.m. on July 5, Defendant Gregory Dionisio was driving a passenger car when he crossed the center line and hit Fleming s motorcycle head-on. Fleming died as a result of injuries sustained in the crash. The defendant was intoxicated at the time of the accident. He was reportedly caught trying to drink his urine at the hospital following the incident in an effort to impede the blood alcohol tests. The plaintiff alleged the defendant was negligent in operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. The plaintiff also claimed that defendant failed to maintain proper control of his vehicle. Fleming s wife sought damages for loss of consortium. The plaintiff also sued Gregory s father, John Dionisio, but settled with him for $1.3 million during jury selection. The defendant was convicted of criminal charges and sent to prison in He disputed damages at this civil trial. Injuries: Fleming suffered blunt force trauma, resulting in death. Verdict/Breakdown: The jury awarded the plaintiff $3,776,543. Of that amount, $503,848 was for economic damages; $725,000 was for noneconomic damages; and $2,457,695 was for punitive damages to the estate. Additionally, the surviving spouse was awarded $30,000 for loss of consortium and $60,000 in punitive damages. VERDICT: $2,526,500 Case: Gary Strickland, Administrator of the Estate of Marion Drezek v. The Bristol Hospital Inc. Venue: New Britain Judicial District Judge: Judge Cynthia Swienton Date: September 2013 Joseph McManus; McManus Law Offices; Grafton, Mass. Plaintiff Expert Peter Paige, M.D.; Emergency Medicine; Worcester, Mass. s Robert E. Kiley; DanaherLagnese; Hartford; for Dr. Cliff Wagner Albert Chip Danker Jr.; O Brien, Tanski & Young; Hartford, for Bristol Hospital 10 Personal Injury Yearbook March 2014

13 Summary: The family of a woman who died unexpectedly at Bristol Hospital filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital and a doctor. Marion Drezek, 74, had a longstanding history of unexplained rectal bleeding. She had colonoscopies and other tests but never found out exactly what was causing the problem. After a night of bad bleeding and diarrhea, Drezek s husband, David, drove her to see her primary-care doctor on the morning of April 2, Since her symptoms were worsening she developed shortness of breath and a rapid heartbeat her doctor told her to go to the emergency room immediately. The couple drove to Bristol Hospital, arriving between 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. The plaintiffs said Mrs. Drezek was placed in a room with constant cardio monitoring and that every so often Mr. Drezek would go into the hallway to get a nurse to check on his wife. The last time he did so he became angry, the plaintiffs lawyer said. By the time nurses again checked on Mrs. Drezek, she was unresponsive. She was not breathing, had no blood pressure and was losing color. Emergency room personnel rushed her into another room to begin resuscitation efforts, which were unsuccessful and she was pronounced dead. The plaintiffs complained of the lack of attention Mrs. Drezek received in the emergency room and the failure of the ER physician, Dr. Cliff Wagner, to order intravenous fluids for his wife. The plaintiffs attorney also said that a catheter placed in the bladder during resuscitation efforts revealed no urine at all, a sure sign of dehydration. Wagner feared Mrs. Drezek might be suffering from heart failure and that excess fluids could have backed up in her heart and lungs. Expert witnesses for the defense testified that there were not clear signs that she was hypovolemic from low blood pressure due to blood loss, and thus there was no indication she needed fluids. Injuries: An autopsy performed on Mrs. Dedzek was inconclusive as to the cause of death. Verdict/Breakdown: The jury ultimately awarded $2.5 million in noneconomic damages and $26,500 in economic damages. The jury found Wagner 60 percent at fault and Bristol Hospital 40 percent liable. VERDICT: $1,760,000 Case: Margaret B. Fraser and Joseph T. Fraser v. Wyeth Inc. and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals Inc.: Venue: U.S. District Court Judge: Janet Bond Arterton s Neal L. Moskow; Ury & Moskow; Fairfield, Gregory J. Bubalo; Bubalo Rotman; Louisville, Ky. Summary: A U.S. District Court judge in Connecticut awarded punitive damages in a case in which the plaintiff had already been awarded $4 million in The case involved the menopause drug Prempro, which has been the subject of hundreds of lawsuits nationwide. Prempro is manufactured by Wyeth Inc., which is owned by Pfizer Inc., and it is a combination of two hormones, estrogen and progestin. It was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1994 and has remained on the market ever since. The drug was largely prescribed from 1992 to 2002 until a study by the Women s Health Initiative highlighted its link to cancer. The label for the drug indicated that it could be SF1-SizeMatters-Opt2.pdf 1 3/24/14 12:45 PM C M Y CM MY CY CMY K Personal Injury Yearbook March

14 prescribed for menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, vaginal atrophy, and the prevention of osteoporosis. Plaintiffs lawyers say the drug was responsible for 200,000 excess breast cancers over that decade, as it was one of the highest selling drugs during the time period. Officials with the pharmaceutical company emphatically deny that the drug causes breast cancer and point to the fact that they have won about half of the lawsuits that have gone to trial. Margaret B. Fraser, a retired elementary school principal from Lakeville, began taking Prempro in the mid-1990s for hot flashes after it was prescribed by her gynecologist when she was about 50 years old. Fraser continued taking the drug until 2001, when a mammogram revealed abnormal results. A biopsy was performed and she was diagnosed with cancer. A lumpectomy was performed on Fraser s left breast, followed by six months of chemotherapy and then radiation therapy. She took cancer medications for five years after the radiation therapy. The treatments killed the skin on her breast and she had three different breast reconstruction surgeries over about six years. Fraser sued Wyeth, and her lawyers persuaded the jury that the drug company did not provide adequate warnings about the breast cancer risk to her doctor. Fraser said that had she known of the breast cancer risk, she would not have taken the drug. The plaintiffs lawyers sought as much as $8 million in punitive damages. Verdict/Breakdown: Judge Janet Bond Arterton awarded $1.8 million in punitive damages. A jury in 2012 had already awarded $3.75 million in damages to Fraser and $250,000 to her husband as part of a loss of consortium claim. VERDICT: $1,650,000 Case: Peter Halvorson v. Kathleen Kennedy, M.D., et al. Venue: Hartford Superior Court Judge: Carl Schuman Date: July 2013 s Jim Bartolini; RisCassi & Davis; Hartford Plaintiff Experts Emil Hayek; M.D.; Cleveland Edward Tarlov; M.D.; Massachusetts s Richard C. Tynan; Halloran & Sage; Hartford Summary: A patient filed a medical malpractice lawsuit claiming his doctor prescribed an excessive dosage of a blood-thinning medication, resulting in a life-threatening hematoma. Peter Halvorson, of Coventry, went to St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford for hip-replacement surgery in February Halvorson had received a mechanical heart valve 19 years earlier. As a result, he was taking blood-thinning medication each day. When Halvorson, then 69, was admitted to the hospital for the hip replacement, his doctor planned to switch him from one blood-thinner to another using a method doctors call bridging therapy. Halvorson had been taking Coumadin and was switched to Lovenox. After the surgery, the doctor would again reintroduce Coumadin into his system and then gradually eliminate the Lovenox. Doctors performed a successful hip replacement. That night, Halvorson was given 100 milligrams of Lovenox. The following morning he was given another 100-milligram dose. His lawsuit contends that doctors should have prescribed much lower, 40-milligram dosages. The next day, Halvorson was still groggy from the surgery. When a physical therapist tried getting him out of bed, he couldn t stand up. In fact, he couldn t move his left foot, a condition known as foot drop. Eventually a CT scan revealed a hematoma or blood mass on his hip. Halvorson was rushed into a second surgery. By that time he had been bleeding internally for some time, and had lost eight units of blood from his circulatory system. The surgery stopped the bleeding, but Halvorson claimed he has permanent damage to his left foot. He initially named three doctors and two medical practices in his lawsuit, though one of the doctors and his practice were dropped as defendants before trial. The defense presented two witnesses who testified that the doctors met the necessary standards of care. They said there were no specific standards for the bridging therapy, and that the doses of the drugs administered were acceptable. The defense also argued that even without any blood-thinning medication, there remained a risk of bleeding from the surgery. Injuries: The plaintiff said the hemotoma compressed the left sciatic nerve, which runs from the base of the spine to the foot, leaving Halvorson with permanent disabilities. He now walks with a brace, has pain in his hip and knee, and has trouble using stairs. Verdict/Breakdown: After a two week trial, the jury deliberated for a day and a half before finding one of the doctors and his medical practice liable, awarding $1.65 million in damages. VERDICT: $1,000,000 Case: Jane Doe v. Mario Fusco Jr. Venue: Waterbury Judicial District Judge: Terence Zemetis s Gerald Sack; Law Offices of Gerald S. Sack; West Hartford s Martin Minnella; Minnella, Tramuta & Edwards; Middlebury Summary: A woman who was sexually abused as a teenager by a relative who had promised to tutor her was awarded damages by a Waterbury judge. The woman, who lives in Wolcott and is now 23 years old, sued Mario Fusco Jr., a former teacher at Wallingford s Alternative High School, in May 2012, a month after the man was sentenced to eight years in prison for the abuse. According to the woman s complaint, she and Fusco are cousins. In 2004, when the plaintiff was 14 and Fusco was employed as a teacher, he agreed to tutor her. After earning the teen s trust, Fusco then began asking personal questions of a sexual nature. The complaint further claimed Fusco pressured the girl into masturbating, performing oral sex on him and sending him nude photos. The lawsuit claims the abuse continued until the girl was 17 and it alleged assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. The defense attempted to limit damages by showing that the victim, 23 at the time of the trial, was leading a normal life. She acknowledged during testimony that she isn t currently taking any medications or seeking psychiatric care. Injuries: The plaintiff s attorney claimed his client suffered severe psychological injuries and that she would need considerable sums of money for psychological care and treatment going forward. The attorney said the victim has endured feelings of intense embarrassment, self-blame and guilt, stress and anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, and trust issues. 12 Personal Injury Yearbook March 2014

15 Verdict/Breakdown: The judge ruled for the plaintiff, awarding $1 million. Comments: The plaintiff s attorney acknowledged that the award would probably go uncollected, as the defendant is in prison and had little hope of obtaining another teaching position upon his release. VERDICT: $976,413 Case: Amy Freedman-Lopenzo v. Trumbull Insurance Co. Venue: Hartford Judicial District Judge: Mark Gould Date: February 2013 s Garrett M. Moore, Moore, O Brien, Yelenak & Foti; Cheshire s Kirby Huget; Law Office of David J. Mathis; Hartford Summary: A woman who was injured in a rear-end collision on Halloween 2008 and ended up needing two major back surgeries prevailed in her lawsuit against her own auto insurance company. Amy Freedman-Lopenzo, a divorced 33-year-old certified medical assistant, was stopped at a traffic light at an intersection in Windsor when another vehicle came from behind and hit her vehicle, pushing it into the vehicle in front of her. Freedman-Lopenzo was taken by ambulance to the hospital and treated for injuries to her neck, lower back, right shoulder, right knee and right ankle. While most of the injuries have healed, her lower-back pain persisted. After trying physical therapy and pain medication, she opted for surgery. Complicating matters, her lawyer said, were tests that revealed Freedman-Lopenzo s back pain was the result of not only a herniated disc caused by the accident but also a large benign tumor discovered on her spinal cord, toward the middle of her back. She had surgery to remove her tumor, and then fusion surgery on the herniated disc. The plaintiff s lawyer first settled for the $20,000 policy limit with the insurance company of the driver that rear-ended Freedman- Lopez. The lawyer then filed a lawsuit on Freedman-Lopenzo s behalf against her own insurance carrier for underinsured motorist benefits because her medical damages of $142,735 far exceeded the negligent driver s policy limit. Personal Injury Yearbook March 2014 Injuries: A doctor assessed a 20 percent permanent partial disability rating to the plaintiff s back. Verdict/Breakdown: The judge awarded Freedman-Lopenzo $976,413, including $850,000 in noneconomic damages. Settlement Negotiations: The plaintiff s lawyer said he filed an offer of compromise for $900,000, and that the insurer did not offer much more than $400,000. VERDICT: $930,125 Case: Manuel Vasquez v. Road Service Network, et al. Venue: Fairfield Judicial District Judge: Mary Sommer s John W. Jack Mills; Mills Law Firm; New Haven Maria Cahill; Mills Law Firm; New Haven s Brett M. Szczesny; Halloran & Sage; Westport Summary: A limousine driver from New York who was injured after wheels flew off of a large tractor-trailer on I-95 prevailed in his lawsuit against multiple parties. Manuel Vasquez, 50, of Valley Stream, N.Y., Nassau County, was traveling north on I-95 in Greenwich on June 3, 2008, at around 8 p.m. He was transporting a client to Greenwich after picking him up at John F. Kennedy International Airport. On the other side of the highway, a tractortrailer driven by Edward Robinson was carrying nine other vehicles from Rhode Island to New Jersey. A set of tandem wheels came off the rig and began bouncing along the highway. The 800-pound wheel assembly hit five vehicles on Robinson s southbound side of the highway. One wheel crossed the median and crashed into Vasquez s limo. Vasquez suffered three injuries: He tore the rotator cuff in his right shoulder, he had a torn meniscus in his right knee and he herniated a disc in his lower back. Robinson, the driver of the rig owned by Fleet Car Lease Inc., blamed the accident on a mechanic. Days earlier, he had noticed smoke and oil coming from under the rig and was directed to the local mechanic, Orlando Otero Jr., of Bridgeport. A few days later, he was back on the road, and again noticed the smoke and leaking oil. Soon, the wheels came off. The plaintiff sued Robinson, Fleet Car Lease Inc., Otero and Otero s business, Road Service Network LLC. The defense attorney for Robinson and Fleet Car Lease argued it was the mechanic who should be held liable, not the truck driver or his company. Otero did not show up in court and was not represented. Injuries: The plaintiff needed three surgeries for his shoulder, knee and back injuries. His medical bills totaled $100,000. And even though he was able to return to his driving job fairly quickly, he lost about $12,000 in wages. Verdict/Breakdown: After deliberating for four hours, the jury found for the plaintiffs. It assigned 70 percent of the liability to the mechanic and 30 percent to Robinson and his employer. The total verdict was $930,125. Settlement Negotiations: The trucking company s highest settlement offer was $150,000, made while the jury was deliberating. The plaintiff s demand was $250,000. VERDICT: $533,561 Case: Kathryn Wood v. Town Sports International and Michael Ruggieri Venue: Stamford-Norwalk Judicial District Judge: David Tobin Date: March 27, 2013 s Daniel Benjamin; Benjamin & Gold; Stamford s Julia Braun; Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker; White Plains, N.Y. Summary: On March 29, 2010, plaintiff Kathryn Wood, 35, a homemaker, was working out at Town Sports International in Stamford. She was working with a personal trainer, defendant Michael Ruggieri. The plaintiff fell while using a Vew-Do Balance Board apparatus and fractured her wrist. The plaintiff filed suit against defendants Town Sports and Ruggieri. She alleged that Ruggieri placed her on the balance board, showed her how to use it and then walked away. The plaintiff argued that this was the first time she had used the balance board and that Ruggieri should have stayed to spot her while she was using it. The defendants contended that the plaintiff knew or should have known how 13

16 to use the apparatus and that she was comparatively negligent for her injury. The defendants claimed Ruggieri had advised plaintiff not to get on the balance beam until he returned, but she failed to heed his instructions. Injuries: The plaintiff underwent three surgeries to repair a severe wrist fracture. She was assigned an 8 percent to 9 percent impairment rating and claimed her injury made it more difficult to perform normal life activities. The defendant disputed that there was any permanent damage to the plaintiff. Verdict/Breakdown: The jury returned a $533,561 verdict for the plaintiff, but determined that she was 30 percent comparatively negligent. The net award was $373,561. Post-Trial: The defense filed a motion for remittitur. VERDICT: $520,000 Case: Colleen Bradley v. Long Wharf Drive Ownership LLC, 1-3, et al. Venue: Meriden Superior Court Judge: Vernon D. Oliver Frank C. Bartlett Jr.; Bartlett Burns; Cheshire Joseph Musco; Law Offices of Brian J. Farrell Jr.; New Haven Summary: A woman who injured her back when she stumbled in a pothole in her employer s parking lot prevailed in her lawsuit against building owners and a management company. Colleen Bradley, 47, left her job at the Hair Club for Men and Women on Long Wharf Drive in New Haven around 5:30 p.m. on May 20, As she was walking through the parking lot to get to her car, she stumbled on a pothole (described by her attorney as a depression in the parking lot), twisted her left ankle and wrenched her lower back. She visited her primary-care doctor who diagnosed her with the ankle sprain. But over time, even though the swelling and bruising went away, the ankle pain did not subside. Eventually, Bradley s doctor sent her for an MRI exam, which revealed a L5, S1 disc herniation in her lower back. The disc was pressing a nerve, causing the leg pain near her ankle. Bradley received physical therapy and continued working at the Hair Club, but she was still bothered by the pain. By October 2010, she could no longer stand the pain and opted to have spinal fusion surgery. After the operation, the pain radiating down her left leg subsided somewhat, but the same symptoms began appearing in her right leg, requiring a second back surgery. Bradley sued the building and parking lot ownership group for negligence for failing to maintain the parking lot. The lawyer for Long Wharf Drive Ownership LLC, 1-3, and its management company, Newmark & Company Real Estate Inc. argued that they did not have notice of the depression in the parking lot pavement and that Bradley s back problems were caused by a preexisting degenerative disc condition. Injuries: The plaintiff has been unable to work since the second surgery and was terminated from her position at the Hair Club. She collected workers compensation benefits for a time, and then Social Security. Verdict/Breakdown: After a three-day trial, the jury found the defendants 65 percent at fault and Bradley 35 percent at fault. The plaintiff s final award was $520,000. Post-Trial: Both the plaintiff and the defense filed post-judgment verdicts to modify the award. In a decision made by Judge Vernon Oliver, some money was deducted for medical bills and some was added back in to account for post-judgment interest. The final total paid out by the defendants was roughly $484,000. VERDICT: $370,959 Case: Alzira Gois v. Jonathan Asaro Venue: Stamford-Norwalk Judicial District Judge: Kenneth Povodator s Frank DiScala Jr.; Bachand DiScala; Norwalk Tanya M. Bachand; Bachand DiScala; Norwalk s Brock T. Dubin; Donahue, Durham & Noonan; Guilford Summary: A Norwalk woman filed a lawsuit after her vehicle was forced over a highway embankment by a tractor-trailer. Alzira Gois, 65, originally from Brazil, was driving a 2005 Hyundai sedan northbound on I-95 in the right lane of traffic near exit 10 in Darien on June 11, At the same time, Jonathan Asaro, a truck driver who owned his own rig, was headed northbound on I-95, but in the center lane. Gois claims the truck driver abruptly moved into the right lane and crashed into her vehicle. The truck s momentum pushed the Hyundai onto the right shoulder, and then flipped it over the embankment. Gois attorney said his client s car spiraled three times in the air before hitting the ground. Gois, who was knocked unconscious, sustained a concussion, post-concussion syndrome, cracked ribs, and neck and lower back injuries. She hasn t driven a car since the accident. Gois had worked as a nanny in the United States, but she could no longer do the job after the crash. Gois filed suit against Asaro, who lived outof-state and did not appear at the trial. The complaint alleged negligence and recklessness. The defense, provided by Asaro s auto insurance company, did not contest liability. Instead, it focused on damages, including the $76,000 worth of medical bills incurred by Gois, who did not have health insurance. Injuries: The plaintiff claimed long-term memory problems and anxiety-related issues. Her doctor diagnosed her with possible posttraumatic stress disorder. Verdict/Breakdown: A jury awarded Gois $370,959. Settlement Negotiations: At the start of the trial, the defense offered $190,000. The plaintiff asked the jury for $1.7 million. Post-Verdict: The judge denied a defense motion to set aside the verdict. The defense announced plans for an appeal. VERDICT: $344,300 Case: Mandy Vizziello, PPA Michael Vizziello v. Michelle Vizziello Venue: New Haven Judicial District Judge: Patty Pittman Date: Aug. 5, 2013 s Anthony J. Elia Jr.; North Haven Plaintiff Experts David Fantarella, DMD; General Dentistry; North Haven Ronald Albert; DMD; General Dentistry; Manchester 14 Personal Injury Yearbook March 2014

17 s J. Kevin Golger; McNamara & Kenney; Bridgeport Insurer: GEICO Summary: On Aug. 7, 2009, plaintiff Mandy Vizziello, 9, was a passenger in a vehicle driven by her mother, defendant Michelle Vizziello. When the defendant attempted to make a right turn in front of an oncoming vehicle, she sideswiped another vehicle and then struck a second oncoming vehicle headon. Mandy sustained facial injuries, including the loss of teeth and mouth lacerations, with permanent scarring. Michael Vizziello filed a motor vehicle negligence suit on Mandy s behalf against Michelle Vizziello. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant failed to yield the right-of-way to an oncoming vehicle, failed to make proper observation and failed to avoid this accident. The defendant presented no evidence to counter the liability testimony. The case proceeded to the jury on the issue of damages only. Injuries: Mandy was transported to a local emergency room for treatment of facial injuries. She lost two baby teeth and fractured four other teeth. She underwent root canal repairs and was left with scarring and a visible lump on her lower lip and at the corner of her lip. Mandy had $21,000 in past medical costs. She also sought damages for future medical costs, pain and suffering, and permanent disfigurement. Verdict/Breakdown: After a five day trial, the jury returned a $344,300 verdict for the plaintiff. Settlement Negotiations: The plaintiff s demand was $375,000; the defense offer was $250,000. VERDICT: $330,000 Case: Tyler Frohloff v. Demkowicz Management of Farmington LLC, et al. Venue: New Britain Superior Court Judge: Cynthia K. Swienton Frank C. Bartlett Jr.; Bartlett Burns; Cheshire Jan Trendowski, of Trendowski & Allen; Centerbrook Summary: A man had his jaw broken and was left unconscious after getting beaten in Personal Injury Yearbook March 2014 a strip club restroom by three strangers. Tyler Frohloff of Harwinton was at the Hollywood Connecticut Strip Club in Southington after midnight on April 21, The then- 22-year-old was reportedly receiving quite a bit of attention from the dancers that night. Jason Dubowsky of Middletown was apparently not happy about that. Dubowsky was a former bouncer at the gentleman s club. He was supposedly banned from the club after his firing, but on that night he was somehow let in, the plaintiff s lawyer said. Dubowsky and two unidentified companions were drinking heavily that night. A surveillance video revealed that as Frohloff walked by them, one of them kicked his leg up in the air. They then followed Frohloff into the men s room, attacked him and broke his jaw so severely that, according to the plaintiff s lawyer, it was hanging from his face. Dubowsky was charged with second-degree assault and sentenced to three years of probation. Dubowsky, who represented himself in the civil suit, said in a deposition that he knew the other two men were headed to the restroom to assault Frohloff and he tried to stop it, but they blocked him from entering the restroom. But an arresting officer testified that Dubowsky s left hand was swollen after the fight. Frohloff s lawsuit alleged negligence, recklessness and intentional assault against Dubowsky. Frohloff also filed claims of negligent security against the strip club s ownership group, Demkowicz Management of Farmington, and the club s assistant manager and general manager. At trial, the defense lawyer argued that the club s management had no way of knowing any violence was imminent. The initial lawsuit also contained a dram shop complaint, which was later dismissed. The judge ruled there was insufficient evidence to show that the club had served the alleged assailants, who were visibly intoxicated. Injuries: Frohloff required surgery that involved having a plate installed on each side of his jaw. The surgeon cut open Frohloff s gums, inserted the plates and wired the mouth shut for five or six weeks to hold the jaw in place. In additionw, Frohloff suffered emotional and psychological injuries, according to his lawyer. Verdict/Breakdown: The jury deliberated for nearly two hours before awarding $330,000 to the plaintiff. Of that amount, about $45,000 was for past medical bills, $5,000 for future medical bills, $5,000 for lost wages and $275,000 forn noneconomic damages. VERDICT: $267,247 Case: Cailyn Josephs v. Alyson Portelance-Ayer; Timothy Baker v. Alyson Portelance-Ayer Venue: Rockville Superior Court Judge: James Graham Date: March 25, 2013 s Paul Shapera; Paul N. Shapera Law Offices; Hartford; for Timothy Baker Stephen Mangan; Ericson Scalise & Mangan; New Britain; for Cailyn Josephs Douglas Thomas; Atlas & Hudon; West Hartford; for Cailyn Josephs Plaintiff Experts David Burstein; M.D.; Orthopedic Surgery; Avon Tomas Sanjurjo; D.C.; Chiropractic; East Hartford Alan S. Tobin; Loccisano, Turret & Rosenbaum; Wallingford Insurer: Safeco Summary: Two drivers filed suit after being injured in a multi-vehicle accident. Cailyn Josephs, 18, was driving westbound on Old Hartford Road in Colchester. Defendant Alyson Portelance-Ayer was traveling eastbound on the same road. Portelance- Ayer cut sharply to her left, crossed the center line and struck the right front of Josephs vehicle. The impact caused Joseph s vehicle to roll or spin out of control. As it was rolling/ spinning, Portelance-Ayer s hit Josephs vehicle a second time, as well as an eastbound vehicle driven by Timothy Baker, a 47-year-old carpenter. Baker s vehicle was then propelled off the road, where it hit a telephone pole. It was estimated that the initial impact speed was 40 mph. Josephs claimed a serious knee injury as a result of the collision. Baker claimed neck, shoulder and elbow injuries. Josephs and Baker filed separate negligence suits against Portelance-Ayer. The cases were consolidated for trial. The plaintiffs alleged the defendant failed to maintain proper control over her vehicle and failed to maintain her lane of travel. They disputed the defendant s assertion that a phantom vehicle caused the accident and noted that the defendant made no mention of another vehicle when she was initially interviewed by police investigators. The defendant disputed liability. She con- 15

18 tended that she observed another vehicle in the lane ahead of her and that she was trying to avoid colliding with that vehicle. The defendant asserted that she tapped her brakes and then steered sharply to the left to avoid a collision with the vehicle. She maintained that she reacted appropriately. She further asserted that plaintiff Baker was following too closely behind her. Injuries: Josephs sought emergency treatment for her right knee and returned to the ER two more times due to continued swelling of the knee. She was ultimately assigned a 6 percent permanent impairment of the right knee. She claimed $8,781 in past medical bills, as well as damages for past and future pain and suffering. Baker visited a chiropractor the day after the accident for soft tissue injuries to the back, shoulder and elbow. He was assigned a 5 percent impairment and sought $5,464 in past medical costs, as well as past and future damages for pain and suffering. Verdict/Breakdown: The jury deliberated for four hours and found for the plaintiffs. It awarded $168,782 to Josephs and $98,465 to Baker. However, jurors found that Baker was 20 percent comparatively negligent and his award was reduced to $78,772. VERDICT: $255,899 Case: Sinead Boccomaiello v. David Orlando Venue: New Haven Judicial District Judge: Matthew Frechette Date: February 25, 2013 Alfonse Balzano; Balzano & Tropiano; New Haven James L. Fischer; Loccisano, Turret & Rosenbaum; Wallingford Insurer: Safeco Summary: A part-time grocery store employee fell on snow in the driveway of the house she rented in Branford. Plaintiff Sinead Boccomaiello, 40, was a tenant in a single-family house owned by defendant David Orlando. One morning, at about 10 a.m, Boccomaiello and her son attempted to leave the premises. They got into their vehicle and the plaintiff backed the car out of the garage. Her son then got out and tried to lower the garage door. When he was unable to do so, Boccomaiello exited the vehicle to assist him. Upon stepping onto the driveway, she slipped and fell in snow that had accumulated overnight. Boccomaiello sued Orlando for premises liability. She alleged that Orlando was responsible for clearing snow per the lease agreement, which states that a tenant shall pay when billed for all utilities: gas, electricity, and snow removal. The plaintiff interpreted this to mean that defendant would provide snow removal services, for which she would be responsible for paying. The plaintiff also provided proof that Orlando routinely removed snow during the winter for a living, and presented receipts from a homeowner who used his services in 2009 and Therefore, the plaintiff argued that Orlando should have plowed his own rental unit driveway. Lastly, the plaintiff presented evidence that Orlando and his spouse changed the wording of the lease after plaintiff moved from the premises to make the tenant responsible for snow and ice removal. Orlando contended it was the plaintiff s responsibility to remove snow. He maintained that he had not plowed snow for a living since the early 1990s due to his age. Also, he and his spouse denied changing the wording on the lease after plaintiff moved from the premises Injuries: The plaintiff underwent hip-replacement surgery after claiming the fall aggravated a previously asymptomatic hip condition. She was eventually able to return to work, but claimed $70,000 in medical bills, as well as damages for pain and suffering. The defendant disputed that Boccomaiello s need for surgery was related to the fall. Verdict/Breakdown: The jury awarded $255,899 to the plaintiff, but found she was 30 percent comparatively negligent. (Plaintiff s counsel said the jury believed his client should have called the defendant to have the snow removed.) The net verdict was $179,129. VERDICT: $220,383 Case: William Bartley v. James Servin and Frank Servin Venue: Ansonia-Milford Judicial District Judge: Paul Matasavage Date: April 18, 2013 Adam LaRue; Carter Mario Injury Lawyers; North Haven Plaintiff Expert Peter Naiman; M.D.; Orthopedics; Milford Melissa Papantones; Mark S. Gilcreast Law Offices; Hamden Insurer: Allstate Insurance Summary: On Nov. 9, 2009, plaintiff William Bartley, 57, a security guard, was working at his job at Amity Regional High School in Woodbridge. As he was walking in the parking lot, he observed James Servin, 17, sitting in his vehicle and engaged in what appeared to be suspicious activity. As Bartley approached the vehicle, he thought he saw James eat what was in his hand. The security guard pulled open the driver s side door and positioned himself between the door and the body of the vehicle. The vehicle then began moving backward, pulling Bartley with it. Another security officer dove into the car to stop it. James was then arrested. The security guard sustained back injuries as a result of the incident. Bartley filed suit against James Servin and James father, defendant Frank Servin, who owned the vehicle his son was driving. The security guard alleged James put the vehicle in reverse and was negligent in backing the vehicle while plaintiff was standing in the open door. The defendants conceded liability for causing the incident, but argued that this was simply an accident. They argued that James, who was not doing anything wrong, was startled when plaintiff opened the car door, causing James foot to slip off the brake and roll backward. James Servin did not appear for trial, but Frank Servin was present. Injuries: Bartley was treated for back and knee pain. He claimed he suffered a bulging lumbar disc at L4-L5 as a result of the parking lot incident. According to plaintiff, the disc injury caused pain and numbness in the right leg, as well as foot drop. He acknowledged he had been previously assigned a 10 percent permanent impairment of the lumbar spine and had undergone prior surgery for an L5-S1 disc herniation, but asserted that the bulging disc was a new injury. He was able to return to work. The defendants contended that the plaintiff had preexisting degenerative disc disease and that this incident did not cause any addi- 16 Personal Injury Yearbook March 2014

19 tional physical problems. The defendants further argued that if the plaintiff was injured, the award should be limited to $15,726, a figure that was twice the security guard s medical bills. Verdict/Breakdown: After a three-day trial, the jury awarded $220,383 to the plaintiff. Settlement Negotiations: The plaintiff s demand was $40,000; the defense offer was $25,000. VERDICT: $205,741 Case: Bruce Gulick v. Casper Ahasic and Arbella Insurance Group Venue: Stamford-Norwalk Judicial District Judge: Anthony Truglia Date: October 30, 2013 John W. Mills; Mills Law Firm, New Haven Plaintiff Expert Jeffrey DeLuca; M.D.; Orthopedics; Norwalk s John E. McCain; Law Office of John E. McCain; Fairfield; for Casper Ahasic Joseph R. Grippe; Ouellette, Deganis & Gallagher; Cheshire; for Arbella Insurance Group Defense Experts Lawrence Schweitzer; Orthopedics; Danbury Insurers: Arbella Insurance Group; GEICO Summary: On June 2, 2011, at 6:30 p.m., plaintiff Bruce Gulick, 52, a self-employed pharmaceutical advertiser and an avid bicyclist, was riding his bike along southbound Noroton Avenue near Baker Park in Darien. Defendant Caper Ahasic had pulled his vehicle to the side of the road to make a cell phone call. After he finished the call, Ahasic drove in front of Gulick, and then attempted to make a right turn into the park. He struck Gulick s bicycle in the process. Gulick flew over the top of the car and landed on the pavement. He sustained a fractured collarbone and a compression fracture of the mid back. Gulick sued Ahasic for motor vehicle negligence, alleging Ahasic failed to keep a Personal Injury Yearbook March 2014 proper lookout and yield to the bicycle. The defendant, who died before the trial, admitted liability for causing the accident. Before Ahasic s death, the plaintiff was offered $60,000 to settle the claims. The liability carrier then settled the claims for the $100,000 policy limits after Ahasic died, after which the plaintiff pursued a claim against his underinsured motorist carrier, defendant Arbella Insurance Group. In a hearing on damages only, Arbella opposed the plaintiff s claims for underinsured benefits. Arbella argued that the plaintiff had recovered from his injuries and returned to his normal activities Injuries: Gulick sought immediate emergency treatment for shoulder and back pain. He was diagnosed with a fractured clavicle and a subsequent diagnostic MRI revealed a T11 compression fracture. He claimed ongoing back pain, which affected his ability to enjoy his bicycling and other outdoor activities. He also contended he lost a quarter inch in height as a result of his spinal fracture. Arbella Insurance Group contended Gulick recovered from his injuries and returned to his athletic activities, which included riding his bike 120 miles per week and refereeing lacrosse games. Verdict/Breakdown: After a three-day trial, the jury awarded the plaintiff $205,741. However, after the $100,000 from the previous insurance settlement was deducted, the net award was $105,741. Settlement Negotiations: The plaintiff demanded $150,000 (in addition to the previous settlement), while the defense offered $50,000. VERDICT: $186,467 Case: Judith Martinez v. Daniel Mazza Venue: Ansonia-Milford Judicial District Judge: Paul Matasavage Date: May 15, 2013 Jason G. Degenaro; Law Offices of Jason G. Degenaro; Guilford Plaintiff Expert Eric Katz; M.D.; Orthopedic; Bridgeport Eugene Zingaro; Zingaro & Cretella; Bridgeport Insurer: Allstate Insurance Co. Summary: On July 14, 2010, plaintiff Judith Martinez, 47, a homemaker, was operating her vehicle on Huntington Turnpike in Shelton. She stopped behind another driver who was making a turn and was rear-ended by a vehicle driven by defendant Daniel Mazza. Martinez alleged knee and back injuries as a result of the accident. Martinez filed a motor vehicle negligence suit against Mazza, alleging he caused the accident when he failed to stop in time, make a proper observation and maintain an appropriate distance between the vehicles. The defendant admitted liability for the collision. Injuries: Martinez underwent arthroscopic surgery on her right knee. She also received physical therapy, chiropractic and orthopedic care, and epidural pain injections to treat a lumbar disc herniation. She claimed ongoing pain. Martinez acknowledged having had a prior knee surgery in 1996, but argued that she had recovered. The defendant contended that the plaintiff had preexisting knee problems and that her back complaints were unrelated to this incident. Verdict/Breakdown: After a two-day trial, the jury awarded $186,467 to the plaintiff. That total included $35,447 for past medical expenses and $150,000 for pain and suffering. Settlement Negotiations: The plaintiff s demand was $250,000, while the defense suggested arbitration with an award not to exceed $150,000. VERDICT: $159,760 Case: Favronia Fatse v. Stew Leonards Venue: Fairfield Judicial District Judge: Dale W. Radcliffe Date: March 28, 2013 James E. Butler; Miller, Rosnick, D Amico, August & Butler; Bridgeport s Cynthia M. Garraty; Cynthia Garraty Law Offices; North Haven Summary: On March 10, 2007, Favronia Fatse, 68, and her husband were shopping at Stew Leonards. She tripped and fell near the front of the store where the shopping 17

20 carts were stored. Fatse claimed she tripped and fell over a sidewalk defect that was three inches wide and one-half inch deep. The plaintiff argued that the defendant knew or should have known of the defect and was negligent in failing to repair the sidewalk. The plaintiff sustained two fractured bones in her right foot and a tear to the left hip, which required surgery. The defendant denied liability and contended that plaintiff was comparatively negligent. Injuries: Fatse fracture her right foot and tore a muscle in the left hip, which required surgery. Verdict/Breakdown: The jury awarded $159,760 in damages, but ruled that the plaintiff was 25 percent at fault. With the comparative negligence factored in, the net verdict was $119,820. VERDICT: $150,000 Case: James Bonomo v. State of Connecticut Department of Transportation and Karen Williams-Salmon Venue: New Britain Judicial District Judge: Cynthia Swienton Date: March 20, 2013 James L. McCoy; Law Office of Jason L. McCoy; Vernon s Jeffrey C. Pingpank; Cooney, Scully & Dowling; Hartford Summary: A 20-year-old unemployed man was hit by a state-owned vehicle while crossing the street in New Britain. On Dec. 18, 2008, at approximately 6 p.m., James Bonomo was attempting to walk across South Main Street, at its intersection with Ash and Roberts streets in New Britain. He was struck by a stateowned vehicle operated by defendant Karen Williams-Salmon, an employee of defendant state Department of Transportation. Bonomo, suffered right knee injuries, argued that Williams-Salmon failed to keep a proper lookout and yield to a pedestrian. He also claimed that Williams-Salmon failed to stop at a red light at the intersection and did not have her headlights on. He further argued that the State of Connecticut was liable for Williams-Salmon s negligence. The defendants denied liability. They contended that the plaintiff was crossing the street against the light and was not paying attention. Injuries: Bonomo was treated for tears of the medial collateral and anterior cruciate ligaments in the right knee, as well as a lumbar disc herniation. His right leg was placed in a hard cast, but he had such extreme anxiety about medical treatment and his cast that he cut off the cast with a machete. The next day, the plaintiff aggravated his knee injury while wrestling with his brother, prompting another trip to the doctor. The defendants contended the wrestling match between the plaintiff and his brother was the primary cause of any knee pain. Verdict/Breakdown: The jury awarded $150,000 to the plaintiff, but the award was reduced by a finding of 25 percent comparative negligence. The net payout was $112,500. Post-Trial: The State of Connecticut filed motions contesting the verdict. Library of Connecticut Personal Injury Forms LIBRARY OF Connecticut Personal Injury Forms 2nd Edition KOSKOFF, KOSKOFF & BIEDER JOSHUA D. KOSKOFF, EDITOR Forms Included on CD Over 175 forms in print and on CD from case intake to settlement. by Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder, P.C. ORDER ONLINE: OR CALL: Personal Injury Yearbook March 2014

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