Judge Kenneth J. Grispin
Court Union County Superior Court, NJ
James C. Dezao III, Law Offices of James C. Dezao, P.A., Parsippany, NJ
John F. McKeon, Hardin, Kundla, McKeon & Poletto, Springfield, NJ
Matthew R. Panas, Hardin, Kundla, McKeon & Poletto, Springfield, NJ
Facts & Allegations
On July 14, 2007, at approximately 11:50 pm, plaintiff Luiz Ferraz, 51, a photographer, was driving northbound on Chimney Rock Road in Bridgewater. While he was traveling around a curve in the road, he claimed, he was involved in a head-on collision with a vehicle being driven by Edward Kieffer. Ferraz was treated for multiple cervical and lumbar herniations and bulges, as well as rib and head injuries, following the accident.
Ferraz sued Kieffer, alleging that Kieffer cause the crash by driving his vehicle at an excessive speed, against oncomming traffic.
According to Ferraz, he was traveling on Chimney Rock Road when he saw two vehicles ahead of him, driving side by side in the opposide direction. Kieffer, the driver of one of the vehicles, was reportedly driving to a friend’s house at the time; both he and the friend driving alongside him were operating sports-type cars.
Ferraz alleged that Kieffer and his friend were drag racing, and that, in the course of their racing, Kieffer struck Ferraz head-on as Ferraz applied his brakes and moved his car closer to the guardrail, in an unsuccessful attempt to avoid being struck by.
Photographs taken at the scene were described by Ferraz’s attorney as showing the extent of the damage to Ferraz’s vehicle, suggesting that Kieffer had to have been driving at an excessive speed, it was argued. (Ferraz’s vehicle reportedly sustained damage to its driver-side door and front end.)
Kieffer denied that he had been drag racing on the night in question, and instead claimed that he lost control of his vehicle as he attempted to negotiate the curve. He also denied that he was traveling against opposing traffic, countering that Ferraz could not see from where Kieffer was approaching at a distance because of the curve in the roadway.
bulging disc, cervical; bulging disc, lumbar; closed head injury; epidural injections; fracture, rib; fusion, cervical; herniated disc, cervical; herniated disc, lumbar; physical therapy; post-traumatic stress disorder; temporomandibular joint / TMJ; tinnitus
Following the accident, Ferraz was taken to the emergency room at Somerset Medical Center in Sommerville. Ferraz was treated for bulges at C3-4 and C4-5 as well as herniations at C5-6, C6-7, L4-S, and L5-S1 (the herniations were reportedly confirmed by MRI.) He also sustained two fractured ribs and closed head trauma, it was claimed.
Ferraz underwent conservative treatment for his injuries, such as physical therapy and epidural injections. However, Ferraz claimed, the treatments did not quell his pain, and he ultimately required a cervical fusion.
Ferraz also claimed that he developed tinnitus and temporomandibular joint dysfunction due to his head injury, causing him permanent pain and trouble eating solid foods. Ferraz claimed that he developed post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of his injuries, and continues to suffer from anxiety, depression, flashbacks to the event, and fear of being in automobile. (According to Ferraz, he did not have any prior symptoms or treatment that would account for these symptoms.) He alleged that he was unable to return to his job as a photographer because of his injuries.
The defense contended that the disc injuries complained of were the result of degenerative disc disease, and not related to the accident in question.
The case settled following mediation before Eugene Codey of Connell Foley, prior to motions in limine being heard. Pursuant to the terms of the settlement $800,000 will be paid to Ferraz out of the $1.5 million insurance policy under which Kieffer was covered at the time of the accident.