Judge Mark M. Russello
Court Bergen County Superior Court, NJ
James C. Dezao III, Law Offices of James C. Dezao, P.A., Parsippany, NJ
Thomas M. Lenney, Arseneault, Whipple, Fassett & Azzarello, LLP, Chatham, NJ
Facts & Allegations
On Feb. 13, 2008, plaintiff Edward Klein, 52, an IT consultant, was involved in a head-on collision with a New Jersey Transit bus, which was making a left turn on Moonachie Avenue in Carlstadt. Klein, proceeding in the opposite direction with the right-of-way, was in his private motor vehicle. The collision was significant and resulted in Klein’s vehicle having to be towed from the scene. Klein claimed he sustained injuries in the collision.
Klein sued the bus driver, Gustavo A. Recinos, and New Jersey Transit. He alleged that Recinos was negligent in the operation of a motor vehicle and that New Jersey Transit was vicariously liable for his actions.
The defense blamed the plaintiff for the accident.
aggravation of preexisting conditions; chiropractic; depression; epidural injections; fusion, cervical; herniated disc at C4-5; herniated disc, cervical; knee; knee replacement; lumbar herniation; post-traumatic stress disorder; shoulder; torn labrum
Klein did not seek any medical attention until two days following the accident when he presented to his primary care physician complaining of neck, back, shoulder, and knee pain. He was referred to an orthopedic specialist who initially treated him with anti-inflammatory and pain medications. When his symptoms did not subside, cervical, thoracic and shoulder MRIs were taken, resulting in a diagnosis of multi-level cervical and lumbar disc herniations and a labrum tear in the right shoulder.
Surgery was recommended for the disc herbiations, which Klein declined. He resorted to chiropractic treatment and pain management therapy. He also underwent numerous mult-level epidural injections.
Klein also – underwent a cervical and thoracic dicogram and a toracic IDET procedure (intradiscal electrothermal therapy). When these therapies and procedures failed, he underwent a cervical fusion at C4-5. He also experienced a failure of a previous left knee replacement and had to have a second total knee replacement.
Klein was also diagnosed with a significant post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and associated sleep disorders.
At the time of trial Klein was still being treated for both his physical and psychological problems. He had not returned to work and has an application for Social Security disability pending.
The defense argued that Klein’s injuries to a great extent were preexisting and not significantly aggravated by the accident. The defense also argued that Klein might achieve a higher level of recovery if better motivated. The psychological injuries were disputed.
The jury determined that the defendant was 100 percent liable for the accident and returned a $3 million damage award for Klein.
- Trial Length: 5 months
- Trial Deliberations: 2.5 hours
- Jury Vote: 8-0