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Carmen Garcia and David and George Garcia, infs. v. City of New York

Case Name

Carmen Garcia and David and George Garcia, infs. v. City of New York

Type of Injury

LOSS OF ONE EYE AND PSYCHOLOGICAL INJURIES

Location

Kings, NY

Verdict

Settled for a total of $3,620,000.

Verdict Amount

$Settled for a total of $3,620,000.

Case Details

IX/6-26 MOTOR VEHICLE — CROSS OVER CENTER MEDIAN — WRONGFUL DEATH — LOSS OF ONE EYE AND PSYCHOLOGICAL INJURIES

SETTLEMENT: Carmen Garcia as Adm. of the Est. of Edward and Louisa Garcia and David and George Garcia, infs. v. City of New York, David Paris, and NJC Towing & Collision, Inc. 8126/88 Date of Settlement 6/27/91 Judge Aaron D. Bernstein, Kings Supreme

Pltf. Atty: Richard C. Bell, Manhattan

Deft. Atty: Steven J. Harkavy of Leahey & Johnson, Manhattan, for Paris

This action settled after 7 weeks of trial for a total of $3,620,000. The accident occurred on 12/14/86 at 3 PM on the Interboro Pkwy., 75 feet east of the intersection of Crosby Ave. in Brooklyn.

Decedent Edward Garcia was driving a vehicle in which his wife, Louisa, and their two children, David and George, were passengers. Evidence indicated that Deft. Paris lost control of his car, struck the median barrier, and crossed over into the Garcias’ lane, striking their car. Paris was later convicted of driving while impaired.

Pltf. contended that the barrier was improperly designed and that the Deft. City should have replaced it with a Jersey-type barrier. Pltf.’s key contention was that an adequate barrier would have redirected Paris’ car back onto his side of the roadway, rather than allowing him to cross over the center line. The City contended that although the State of New York was in the process of changing the barriers on the roadway to Jersey- type barriers, even that type of barrier would not have prevented this accident. The City also contended that Paris’ alcohol impairment was the proximate cause of the accident, and argued that due to his criminal conviction, his intoxication, as a matter of law, caused the accident. Paris claimed that he lost control of his car because NJC Towing, which had repaired the steering in his car 1 month before this accident, did so improperly. Note: There had been one fatal accident at this site in the year before the trial.

Injuries: George (age 9 at the time $1,527,500): loss of one eye; partial loss of hearing; severe facial deformity requiring plastic surgery and dental reconstruction surgery; psychological injuries. David (age 6 $ 417,500 settlement): severe psychological injuries (having witnessed his parents’ deaths). Edward Garcia, a 33-year-old account representative, and his wife, Louisa, a 32-year-old receptionist, died instantly. Edward’s and Louisa’s estates each received settlements of $837,500. Demonstrative evidence: models of the head, eye, and ear; prosthetic eye; blowups of the accident scene; a Jersey-type barrier. Pltf. Experts: Joseph Champagne, engineer, highway design, Champagne Assoc., New Rochelle; Dr. Stephen Sacks, otolaryngologist, Manhattan; Dr. John Mitchell, ophthalmologist, Manhattan; Dr. Howard Cooper, plastic surgeon, Manhattan; Dr. Eric Gibbs, orthodontist, Manhattan; Dr. Ellen Sobo, treating psychologist, Bronx (for George); Dr. Ari Kiev, psychiatrist, Manhattan; Henry Gougleman, oculist, Manhattan; James Cavanaugh, auto mechanic and engineer, Brooklyn; Dr. Conrad Berenson, Ph.D., economist, Woodbury; Audrey Redsten, psychiatric nurse, Bronx (for David); Conrad Kendall, engineer with the City of New York (testified on Interboro cases); Dr. Tamara Bloom, New York City medical examiner; Edmond Provder, vocational rehabilitation, Manhattan. Deft. Experts: Donald Cleveland, Ph.D., traffic engineer, accident reconstruction, Ann Arbor, Michigan; Steven Coulon, accident reconstruction, Bronx; Dr. Ted Becker, psychiatrist, Manhattan; Gerald Renninger, engineer with the City of New York (testified on Interboro cases); Dr. Thomas Manning, toxicologist, Nassau County Medical Center; Dr. Daniel Young, toxicologist (on alcohol impairment). Settlement apportionment: The City paid $3,350,000; NJC Towing paid $150, 000; Paris paid $120,000.11