Douglas Sanders v. Dominick Tozzo and Lynnes Nissan City Inc.
Type of Injury
MENISCUS TEAR AND LUMBAR HERNIATION
Essex County, NJ
The parties negotiated a pre-trial settlement. Tozzo and the insurer for Lynne’s Nissan City agreed to pay a total of $900,000. The insurance policy provided $1 million in coverage. The settlement’s negotiations were mediated by Paul Vichness, of Mandelbaum Salsburg.
On Dec. 14, 2013, plaintiff Douglas Sanders, a sales associate in his late 30s, was retrieving a dealership vehicle from Lynne’s Nissan City Inc., in Belleville.
Sanders worked for BMW of Bloomfield. The dealership had an oral agreement with Lynne’s Nissan City and its owner, Dominick Tozzo, to store its BMW vehicles at the Nissan dealership. Of the approximately 1,000 vehicles at the lot, about 225 were BMW vehicles.
Sanders had been dropped off at the lot by a co-worker at the lot to pick up a BMW to show a customer. As he was walking in between the BMW vehicles, he slipped and fell on ice and landed on his right knee. He claimed knee and back injuries.
Sanders sued Tozzo and Lynne’s Nissan City Inc., alleging negligence in maintaining the premises, creating a dangerous condition. Specifically, he claimed a failure to adequately remove the snow and ice.
Tozzo argued that he had no obligation to remove snow and ice between and around the Bloomfield BMW vehicles, only around the Nissan vehicles.
Sanders’ counsel argued that Tozzo did have such a responsibility, because BMW of Bloomfield paid Tozzo $27,000 a month to store its vehicles and to keep the area around its vehicles safe, including the area in between the BMW vehicles.
Sanders’ expert in engineering cited the lack of a written agreement, and opined that Tozzo, as a property owner, had a duty pursuant to municipal codes to make sure the premises were safe for the tenant.
Sanders’ counsel relied on the testimony of a Lynne’s Nissan City security guard, who stated that he had seen Lynne’s Nissan City employees put salt between the BMW vehicles.
Tozzo’s counsel argued that Lynne’s Nissan City was not responsible for administering snow-removal services between the BMW vehicles, and that its only obligation was to remove and treat snow and ice from the main and side aisles, which it had properly performed.