Sebastian DelDuca, a minor, by his parents and guardians ad litem, Tracy DelDuca and Lenny DelDuca, and individually v. Ridgewood Board of Education, No. BER-L-8026-07

/ / Case Verdicts

Case Name

Sebastian DelDuca, a minor, by his parents and guardians ad litem, Tracy DelDuca and Lenny DelDuca, and individually v. Ridgewood Board of Education, No. BER-L-8026-07

Type of Injury

Maze outside softball field led to child’s collision with car

Location

Bergen County Superior Court, NJ

Verdict

Settlement was reached with the school district on behalf of all three plaintiffs for the sum of $3 million, after two days of conferences with Judge Alexander Carver III. The settlement with the driver (whose name was not disclosed) was for $1 million, resulting in an aggregate recovery of $4 million.

Verdict Amount

$3,000,000.00

Case Details

Judge: Alexander H. Carver, III

Date: 01-28-2011

PLAINTIFF(S)

Attorney:

• Bruce Magaw; Decker & Magaw; Westfield, NJ, for Sebastian DelDuca, Tracy DelDuca, Lenny DelDuca

• Scott Parsons; O’Connor, Parsons & Lane, LLC; Westfield, NJ, for Sebastian DelDuca, Tracy DelDuca, Lenny DelDuca

Expert:

• Thomas Pienciak; Playgrounds; Cedar Knolls, NJ called by: Bruce Magaw, Scott Parsons

• Dr. Steven Batterman Ph.D; Biomechanics; Cherry Hill, NJ called by: Bruce Magaw, Scott Parsons

• Daniel Adler M.D; Pediatric Neurology; Englewood, NJ called by: Bruce Magaw, Scott Parsons

• Charles Kincaid Ph.D.; Vocational Rehabilitation; Hackensack, NJ called by: Bruce Magaw, Scott Parsons

• Leonard Lucenko Ph.D., C.P.S.I., A.C.F.E.I.; Physical Education; Lake Ariel, PA called by: Bruce Magaw, Scott Parsons

• Kristin Kucsma M.A.; Personal Injury (Economics); Livingston, NJ called by: Bruce Magaw, Scott Parsons

• Linda Lajterman R.N.; Life Care Planning; Ramsey, NJ called by: Bruce Magaw, Scott Parsons

• G. Cosentino; Landscape Design; Red Bank, NJ called by: Bruce Magaw, Scott Parsons

• Michael Kalsher Ph.D.; Human Factors — See also TECHNICAL-Engineering-Ergonomics; Rensselaer, NY called by: Bruce Magaw, Scott Parsons

• Walter Suhaka,; Accident Investigation & Reconstruction/ Failure Analysis/Product Liability; Wayne, NJ called by: Bruce Magaw, Scott Parsons

DEFENDANT(S)

Attorney:

• Christopher Fusco; Callahan & Fusco, LLC; East Hanover, NJ, for Ridgewood Board of Education

• Matthew D. Stockwell; Callahan & Fusco, LLC; East Hanover, NJ, for Ridgewood Board of Education

Expert:

• Timothy Carlsen P.E.; Engineering; Edison, NJ called by: Christopher Fusco, Matthew Stockwell

• Carl Abraham Ph.D.; Safety; Great Neck, NY called by: Christopher Fusco, Matthew Stockwell

• Edmond Provder C.R.C.; Vocational Rehabilitation; Lodi, NJ called by: Christopher Fusco, Matthew Stockwell

• Richard Wostbrock P.E.; Engineering; Midland, NJ called by: Christopher Fusco, Matthew Stockwell

• Jack Samuels E.D.D.; Sports/Recreation; Monclair, NJ called by: Christopher Fusco, Matthew Stockwell

• Walter Molofsky, M.D.; Pediatric Neurology; New York, NY called by: Christopher Fusco, Matthew Stockwell

• Michael Soudry MBA; Economics; New York, NY called by: Christopher Fusco, Matthew Stockwell

• Andrew Rentschler Ph.D.; Biomedical; Pittsburgh, PA called by: Christopher Fusco, Matthew Stockwell

• John Desch P.E.; Accident Reconstruction; Riverdale, NJ called by: Christopher Fusco, Matthew Stockwell

Insurer:

• QBE Insurance Co.

Facts:

On June 13, 2004, plaintiffs Tracy and Lenny DelDuca, and their children, Maggie, 4, and Sebastian, 22 months, attended a church softball game at Benjamin Franklin Middle School in Ridgewood. The field was surrounded by a chain-link fence. An ungated entrance, roughly 15 feet from East Glen Avenue, was connected to the field by a maze-like structure designed to keep out bicycles (a person entering or exiting had to make three 90-degree turns). While his father played in the game and his mother and sister stood behind the backstop, Sebastian ran through the maze and onto the road, where he was struck by a car.

The parents sued the Ridgewood Board of Education, the owner of the field, claiming that the design of the maze entrance and the fence around the field, just 15 feet from a busy roadway, created a hazardous condition. The plaintiffs further claimed that the narrowness of the maze configuration impeded Tracy DelDuca’s progress as she attempted to chase after Sebastian.

The parents also asserted a claim against the driver of the vehicle that struck Sebastian and settled that case prior to and without the necessity of filing a lawsuit against that tortfeasor.

The school district contended that Tracy was at fault for failing to supervise her child and that the maze had caused no accidents in its previous 18 years of existence.

Injury:

Sebastian was struck in the head by the vehicle and suffered severe brain damage and injury to his left leg. He was in a coma for two years afterward, is blind and has little or no cognitive function. He cannot walk or talk.

There was no dispute as to the extent, seriousness and permanency of Sebastian’s injuries.

The plaintiffs claimed a life-care plan for Sebastian would cost $8 million. Tracy, who was only inches from Sebastian when he was struck, suffered from severe post-traumatic stress disorder. Both Tracy and Lennie asserted Portee claims for emotional distress.