Concetta Frato and Helen Zakinthinos v. Roadway Express, Inc.; Robert Valen, Jr.; and Theopempti Angelidis, as Adm. of the Est. of Athanasios Aggelidis

/ / Case Verdicts

Case Name

Concetta Frato and Helen Zakinthinos v. Roadway Express, Inc.; Robert Valen, Jr.; and Theopempti Angelidis, as Adm. of the Est. of Athanasios Aggelidis

Type of Injury

BRAIN DAMAGE AND MULTIPLE FRACTURES

Occupation

waitress

Location

New York, NY

Verdict

This action settled for $2,500,000 for one Pltf., and $1,400,000 for another Pltf. during trial

Verdict Amount

$2,500,000.00

Case Details

XIV/31-36 MOTOR VEHICLE PASSENGERS REAR END DISABLED TRACTOR-TRAILER IN TRAFFIC LANE BRAIN DAMAGE AND MULTIPLE FRACTURES INTOXICATED HOST DRIVER DIED

SETTLEMENT: Concetta Frato and Helen Zakinthinos v. Roadway Express, Inc.; Robert Valen, Jr.; and Theopempti Angelidis, as Adm. of the Est. of Athanasios Aggelidis 17831/91 Date of Settlement 12/18/96 New York Supreme

Pltf. Atty: Michael Maggiano and Andrew J. Calcagno of Michael Maggiano & Assoc., Fort Lee, New Jersey, for Frato

Joseph M. Irom of Irom, Wittels, Freund & Finley, Bronx, for Zakinthinos

This action settled for $2,500,000 for one Pltf., and $1,400,000 for another Pltf. during trial. The case arose out of an accident that occurred on 9/28/89 at approximately 5:25 AM on the lower level approach of the westbound Cross Bronx Expwy. to the George Washington Bridge. Pltf. Frato, a 23-year-old waitress at the time, was sitting in the middle of the back seat of a car driven by Deft. Aggelidis. Pltf. Zakinthinos, a 21-year-old exchange student from Greece, was a passenger in the front right seat. Three people were in the front seat of the car, and three were in the back seat. They were returning to New Jersey from a restaurant in Astoria. Pltf. claimed that as their vehicle was traveling in the left lane under Apartment Building No. 2, a highway tunnel, it drove around a bend in the road and suddenly came upon a disabled tandem tractor-trailer in their lane, owned by Deft. Roadway Express and driven by Deft. Valent. The tractor-trailer had suffered a blowout of the left front tire, and the tire had come completely off the rim. Pltfs. host vehicle crashed head-on into the rear of the tractor-trailer, killing Deft. Aggelidis, the driver of the car.

Pltfs. contended that although Deft. Aggelidis was intoxicated, he attempted an evasive maneuver to avoid the accident, as evidenced by the position of the steering wheel after the crash and the manner in which the car hit the back of the trailer. Pltfs. also contended that Deft. Valent, the driver of the tractor-trailer, was negligent for failing to properly place reflective triangles before the bend in the road, in violation of Federal statute; that Valent failed to activate his four-way flashers or other lights; and that he improperly parked the truck in the left lane around a blind curve in the road at night, although he could have parked it at either of two emergency stop areas to the right of the road before the blind curve. Pltfs. also argued that although the truck s tire had completely come off the rim, Valent could have safely driven into the right lane off the Cross Bronx Expwy. to the nearest exit ramp 1/10 of a mile away, or he could have driven it on the rim across the George Washington Bridge. Pltfs. also argued that Deft. Valent could have walked on the sidewalk along the road with a flashlight to warn oncoming traffic. Pltf. and Deft. Aggelidis Estate argued that although decedent was intoxicated, Valent s negligence was the proximate cause of the accident. Valent contended that the proximate cause of the accident was decedent s intoxication. He contended that the tire blowout forced his tractor- trailer into the left lane, and once the tire came off the rim, he was unable to move the truck. He also claimed that he properly placed triangles in the apex of the curve, and that his four-way flashers were on.

Injuries: Frato (23-year-old waitress $2,500,000 settlement) brain damage with cognitive dysfunction; depressed right temporal skull fracture with epidural hematoma, requiring a right temporal craniectomy and evacuation of the hematoma; post-traumatic seizure disorder; post- traumatic stress disorder; fracture at C4-5; pneumothorax requiring surgery for the placement of a chest tube; temporomandibular joint dysfunction; post-traumatic perilymphatic fistula of the right ear requiring surgery. Pltf. was totally disabled from work, and her driver s license was revoked due to the seizure disorder. Zakinthinos (21-year-old student $1,400,000 settlement) compound fracture of the distal tibia and fibula requiring several surgeries and, ultimately, an ankle fusion. Pltf. has a slight limp and a limitation of motion in her foot.

Note: Aggelidis offered the remaining $460,000 of his $500,000 policy prior to trial (Aggelidis had previously settled for $40,000 with two other passengers who were not a part of this suit), but this offer was rejected by both Pltfs. because of the ramifications of GOL 15-108. Demonstrative evidence: video showing that a truck can be steered safely on a rim without a tire; the actual rim from the truck shown in the video; illustrations showing brain surgery; video of perilymphatic surgery; photographs of Pltf. Frato before and after surgery; enlargements of police photographs of the accident scene; night-time video of approach to the accident scene. Carriers: Liberty Mutual for Roadway (excess); Allstate for Aggelidis. Settlement apportionment: Roadway Express paid $2, 270,000 to Frato; Est. of Aggelidis paid $230,000 to Frato. Pltf. Experts: Dr. Michael Sisti, neurosurgeon, Manhattan; Dr. Ronni Seltzer, psychiatrist, Englewood, New Jersey; Dr. Ulises Sabato, neurologist, New Jersey; Dr. Alan Groveman, neuropsychologist, New Jersey; Dr. Kenneth Kutner, neuropsychologist, New Jersey; Dr. Joel Lehrer, otolaryngologist, Teaneck, New Jersey; Dr. Mitityahu Marcus, Ph.D., economist, Westfield, New Jersey; Edmond Provder, vocational rehabilitation, Manhattan; David Stopper, accident reconstruction and trucking expert, Manassas, Virginia.