Mitchell Weiner v. Globe Business Furniture, Inc.
Type of Injury
SPONDYLOLISTHESIS, SPONDYLOSIS, AND BULGING DISC
XV/38-29 PRODUCT LIABILITY CHAIR COLLAPSE SPONDYLOLISTHESIS, SPONDYLOSIS, AND BULGING DISC SURVEILLANCE FILM
Mitchell Weiner v. Globe Business Furniture, Inc. 96 Civ 0400 5-day trial Verdict 8/29/97 Southern District
Judge: Mark D. Fox
Verdict: $18,292 (8/0). Breakdown: $14,436 for past medical expenses (stipulated to by parties); $3,856 for past lost wages for one month of lost work. Pltf. s motion for a new trial on the issue of damages was denied on 11/12/97. Judge Fox ruled that it was not inconsistent for the jury to award medical expenses and lost wages and not award for past pain and suffering.
Pltf. Atty: Andrew J. Genna of Finkelstein, Levine, Gittelsohn & Partners, Newburgh
Deft. Atty: Steven L. Wittels of Law Offices of Steven L. Wittels, Armonk
Facts: Pltf., a 35-year-old bedding salesman, claimed that he was permanently injured on 9/24/94 when a chair that he was sitting on at work collapsed. The chair was an office chair manufactured by Deft. (Model #M3). Pltf. claimed that the chair was defectively welded. Deft. conceded liability.
Injuries: spondylolisthesis; grade-I spondylosis; foraminal stenosis; bulging disc at L5-S1. Pltf. underwent multiple epidural steroid spinal injections, including a facet block, over a 3-year period. Pltf. claimed that he still experienced constant pain and that he spent most of his time laying on his back and using various pain medications. He claimed that he needed a cane in order to walk, that he could not sit or stand comfortably for more than 10-15 minutes at a time, and that sexual relations were severely hampered and painful. Pltf. contended that two courses of physical therapy and hydrotherapy failed to relieve his symptoms. His treating neurologist testified that only a spinal fusion would relieve Pltf. s pain. Pltf. s vocational expert testified that Pltf. was unable to be gainfully employed, and his economist estimated that his lost earnings and benefits would exceed $6,000,000 over his lifetime. Deft. contested the causation and severity of Pltf. s injuries. Deft. presented a surveillance video that showed Pltf. getting in and out of cars with apparent ease, wiping down his car after a car wash, and laying prostrate on a raft for a long period of time. On cross- examination, Pltf. s girlfriend testified that Pltf. engaged in certain activities, such as riding a motorized scooter which, Deft. claimed, was inconsistent with Pltf. s claimed injuries. Deft. s experts testified that Pltf. s complaints of low back pain that radiated down his legs and groin seemed out of proportion to what they saw in his X-rays and examinations. Demonstrative evidence: X- rays; surveillance video. Offer: $350,000 (or high/low of $200,000/$ 1,000,000); demand: $2,000,000; amount asked of jury: $6,000,000 for pain and suffering, plus economic losses. Jury deliberation: 1? hours.
Pltf. Experts: Dr. Jeffrey Oppenheim, treating neurosurgeon, Suffern; Dr. Joel Mandel, pain specialist/orth. surg., New Windsor; Edmond Provder, vocational expert, Manhattan; Thomas Kershner, economist, Saratoga Springs.
Deft. Experts: Dr. Richard Freeman, orth. surg., White Plains; Dr. Ronald Silverman, neurologist, Bronxville.