Plaintiff, a 45 years old, was the driver of a box truck that was stopped at a red light on Second Avenue and 78th Street, New York, New York, when he was rear-ended by an MTA Bus. As a result of being struck in the rear, plaintiff’s truck was caused to strike the rear of an SUV stopped in front of him. As a result of the impacts, plaintiff sustained injuries to his back, right shoulder, left knee and left foot. Plaintiff was removed from the scene of the collision by EMS and taken to the emergency room, where he was treated and released. A few days following accident plaintiff began a course of conservative treatment. Eventually plaintiff underwent lumbar spine fusion surgery, right shoulder and left knee arthroscopy, and mid-foot surgery due to the post traumatic arthritis.
Plaintiff moved for partial judgment on liability and the motion was granted. However, the First Department Appellate Division reversed on grounds that the driver of the SUV testified that his vehicle was struck in the rear twice. Therefore, defendants argued that plaintiff struck the SUV first resulting in a sudden stop, and thus the MTA Bus was unable to avoid rear-ending plaintiff’s vehicle.
Defendants claimed that plaintiff was 100% responsible for the happening of the accident and all of his injuries were caused when his van struck the rear of the SUV before the bus rear-ended plaintiff. Defendant also claimed that there was minimal property damage to the bus and plaintiff’s van, but moderate damage to the rear of the SUV. Defendants introduced several hours of video surveillance of plaintiff and argued he is capable of performing all of his daily activities, including an ability to work without restrictions. Defendants also argued that plaintiff had a prior motor vehicle accident six years earlier and was recommended lumbar spine surgery to his low back, thus the subject motor vehicle collision did not result in a back injury. Moreover, defendants claimed plaintiff’s back condition was degenerative, pre-existing, due to congenital defects and unrelated to the within bus collision.
Judd F. Kleeger, tried this matter to verdict in the Supreme Court, Bronx County. The jury found defendants 100% responsible for causing the collision, and awarded $6,832,284 for past and future pain and suffering, as well as future medical expenses and future loss of earnings. The parties stipulated to past medical expenses and past loss of earnings.