Tractor driver's U-turn caused crash, plaintiff claimed
|U-Turn, Motor Vehicle - Broadside, Motor Vehicle - Multiple Vehicle|
|Jeptha A. Wallace v. City of New York NYC Parks & Recreation, & Stefan Popa, No. 300164/09|
|Bronx Supreme, NY|
|Mitchell J. Danziger
- William Schwitzer; Dinkes & Schwitzer; New York, NY, for Jeptha A. Wallace
- Gia DiCola; Assistant Corporation Counsel, Michael A. Cardozo, Corporation Counsel; Bronx, NY, for City of New York, City of New York Department of Parks & Recreation, Stefan Popa
- Charles Bagley M.D.; Neurology; New York, NY called by: Gia DiCola
- Ali Sadegh Ph.D.; Accident Reconstruction; New York, NY called by: Gia DiCola
On Aug. 16, 2008, plaintiff Jeptha Wallace, 38, a bouncer, was driving on Morris Park Avenue, in the Bronx. His vehicle collided with a tractor that was being driven by Stefan Popa, who was executing a U-turn onto the opposite side of Morris Park Avenue. Wallace sustained injuries of his back and neck.
Wallace sued Popa and the owners of Popa's vehicle, the city of New York and the City of New York Department of Parks & Recreation. Wallace alleged that Popa was negligent in the operation of his vehicle. Wallace further alleged that the remaining defendants were vicariously liable for Popa's actions.
Wallace claimed that his vehicle occupied Morris Park Avenue's left lane, and he contended that the collision occurred while Popa was executing a sudden U-turn out of the right lane. Wallace claimed that his vehicle struck the front end of the tractor's left side, between its cabin's entrance and its front tire, and plaintiff's counsel argued that the impact's location established that the tractor was turning across the path of Wallace's vehicle.
Plaintiff's counsel moved for summary judgment of liability. Judge Larry Schachner found that Popa was negligent, but he also determined that a jury would have to consider the issue of comparative negligence.
The defense's accident-reconstruction expert opined that Wallace's vehicle struck the rear portion of the tractor's left side, in the area of the rear tire. The expert also opined that the tractor was stopped when it was struck, and he estimated that 75 percent of the vehicle had crossed Morris Park Avenue's double yellow center line. Defense counsel contended that Wallace could have veered into the right lane and avoided the collision. She claimed that the tractor was a large, easily noticeable vehicle, and she supported that claim by presenting a full-size replica of the vehicle. Plaintiff's counsel had argued that the mock-up's size would be exaggerated in the small surroundings of a courtroom--outside of the context of a wide city street and the nearby tall buildings--so the mock-up was presented in one of the courthouse's larger rooms.
Wallace sustained herniations of his C5-6 and L4-5 intervertebral discs. He was placed in an ambulance, and he was transported to a hospital, where he underwent minor treatment.
Wallace initially underwent about 10 weeks of physical therapy, but he claimed that the treatment did not resolve his pain. In October 2008, he underwent a discectomy, which involved the excision of his C5-6 disc. In January 2009, he underwent fusion of his spine's L4-5 level. Each surgery was followed by an additional course of physical therapy.
Wallace claimed that he suffers permanent residual pain that will necessitate lifelong use of painkillers. He contended that he cannot perform physical labor or any strenuous activities, including household chores. He has not resumed work.
Wallace sought recovery of future medical expenses and damages for past and future pain and suffering.
The defense's expert neurologist opined that Wallace does not experience a residual reduction of his range of motion, that Wallace can resume full-time work and that Wallace can perform his household chores.
The jury found that the defendants bore 85 percent of the liability. Wallace was assigned 15 percent of the liability. The jury determined that Wallace's damages totaled $11.6 million, but the comparative-negligence reduction produced a net recovery of $9.86 million.
Jeptha A. Wallace
$5,500,000 Personal Injury: Future Medical Cost
$600,000 Personal Injury: Past Pain And Suffering
$5,500,000 Personal Injury: Future Pain And Suffering
This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff's counsel. Defense counsel did not respond to the reporter's phone calls.