Mohammed and Mukhtar Nav Ashraf v. Marc Gordon, Kerman Protection Co., and Ford Motor
Type of Injury
HERNIATED AND BULGING CERVICAL AND LUMBAR DISCS WITH SURGERY
$840,000 (6/0). Breakdown: $750,000 for past pain and suffering; $90,000 for past lost earnings. Jury: 5 male, 1 female..
XIII/37-4 MOTOR VEHICLE REAR END HERNIATED AND BULGING CERVICAL AND LUMBAR DISCS WITH SURGERY SURVEILLANCE FILM
Mohammed and Mukhtar Nav Ashraf v. Marc Gordon, Kerman Protection Co., and Ford Motor Credit 20672/92 9-day trial Verdict 3/5/96 Judge Kenneth L. Thompson, Jr., Bronx Supreme
VERDICT: $840,000 (6/0). Breakdown: $750,000 for past pain and suffering; $90,000 for past lost earnings. Jury: 5 male, 1 female.
Pltf. Atty: Henry W. Davoli, Jr. of Davoli & Vesnaver, Rockville Centre, trial counsel for Gary E. Rosenberg, Forest Hills
Deft. Atty: Michael Russo of Hayes & Ryan, Manhattan
Facts: The accident occurred at 10 AM on 6/21/92 at the intersection of 31st St. and Ninth Ave. in Manhattan. Pltf., a 42-year- old cab driver, was driving a car that was struck in the rear by Deft.’s Ford Aerostar commercial van, which was leased by Deft. Kerman and driven by Kerman’s employee, Deft. Gordon. Pltf. claimed that he was stopped for 3-5 seconds before the collision. The impact crushed the back of the cab and broke the driver’s seat, and the taxi was pushed 30 feet through the intersection.
Defts. contended that Pltf. stopped short. Pltf. testified that Deft. Gordon told him that he was looking ahead at the traffic light at the next corner. The responding police officer testified that Pltf. told him that he was slowing for a yellow light when his car was hit in the rear. The officer also testified that Deft. Gordon told him that he thought that Pltf. was going to drive through the yellow light, and when Pltf. stopped, Gordon braked but could not avoid the impact. Deft. Gordon was precluded from testifying because he did not appear at his deposition. The jury was charged with a sudden stop and following too closely.
Injuries: herniated discs at C5-6 and L4-5; bulging discs at C4-5 and L5-S1; nerve root compression; radiculopathy. On 4/14/95, Pltf. underwent bilateral microlaminotomy decompression surgery at L4-5 to free up the nerve roots that exited L4-5. He claimed that he has had some relief from pain, and still wears a back brace. Pltf. has not worked since the accident. His neurologist testified that Pltf.’s herniated disc and nerve root damage were caused by the accident, but admitted that he had some pre- existing degenerative disc disease. Pltf.’s economist testified that Pltf. will suffer $1,100,000 in future lost earnings. Defts. disputed the existence and causality of the herniated discs and noted that Pltf. received only emergency room treatment after the accident. Pltf. underwent conservative treatment for 2 years with a chiropractor, whom he saw three times a week. He also saw an orthopedist during that time. Defts.’ neurologist testified that Pltf. suffered from pre-existing osteoarthritis and a degenerative spinal condition, but had no herniated discs. Pltf. contended that he can no longer drive. Defts. noted that Pltf. renewed his taxi medallion. Defts. also produced a surveillance film of Pltf. showing him driving his children to school, walking without apparent difficulty, and turning his head, all activities that Pltf. claimed that he was no longer able to do. Demonstrative evidence: three enlarged photos of the cab; models of the spine; surveillance film of Pltf .; MRIs taken 9 days after the accident and 2 years after the accident; lost wages chart. Jury deliberation: 6 hours. Offer: $350,000; demand: $ 2,000,000; amount asked of jury: $2,000,000. Carrier: Aetna for Kerman; Allstate for Ford (excess). Pltf. Experts: Dr. Lawrence Shields, neurologist, Brooklyn; Albert Levenson, Ph.D., economist, Woodmere; Edmond Provder, vocational rehabilitation, Manhattan. Pltf. failed to call its surgeon, Dr. Richard Radna, and Pltf. received a missing witness charge. Deft. Experts: Dr. William Head, neurologist, Staten Island; Dr. Bruce Zablow, neuroradiologist, Manhattan; Robert Brower, vocational rehabilitation, Medford. Deft. failed to call Dr. Murray Burton, the orthopedist who examined Pltf. before and after his surgery, and the court instructed the jury with a missing witness charge.