Defense: Plaintiff lost consciousness before crash
|Verbal Threshold, Motor Vehicle - Broadside, Motor Vehicle - Red Light, Motor Vehicle - No-Fault Case|
|Harold L. Evans and Sarah H. Evans v. See N. Kuk and Kwong Y. Sung, No. CAM-L-21-10|
|Camden County Superior Court, NJ|
|Louis R. Meloni
- Stephen W. Guice; Stephen Guice PC; Barrington, NJ, for Harold L. Evans, Sarah H. Evans
- John Mariani D.O.; Orthopedic Surgery; Sewell, NJ called by: Stephen Guice
- Laurie B. Tilghman; Law Offices of Doreen M. Ryan; Moorestown, NJ, for See N. Kuk, Kwong Y. Sung
- Allstate for both defendants
On Dec. 31, 2007, plaintiff Harold Evans, 58, was driving on 4 Mile Branch Road in Sicklerville. As he passed through the intersection with Sicklerville Road, he claimed, he was broadsided by a vehicle being driven by See Kuk. Kuk was the permissive user of that automobile's owner, Kwong Sung. Evans reportedly lost consciousness during the crash, and later was found wandering near the scene of the accident in a confused state by emergency responders.
Evans sued Kuk and Sung for negligence.
Evans testified that Kuk disregarded a red light and that after he lost consciousness as a result of the impact, his vehicle careened out of control for at least 100 feet before a second impact with a light pole occurred farther down the road, on a gas-station property.
Kuk denied disregarding a red light, and claimed the right of way heading into the intersection.
Evans' loss of consciousness claim became a mixed damage and liability issue: Defense counsel argued that it was more probable than not that Evans had lost consciousness immediately before the accident, and that his confused state and statements to emergency responders shortly after the accident belied his trial testimony of a recollection of the accident and how it occurred.
A post-accident police report seemed to suggest that Evans was to blame for the crash, indicating that he had been stopped at a red light and then made a left turn in front of the Kuk/Sung vehicle.
Evans incurred an avulsion fracture of the right ulna, involving the wrist of his dominant hand. In addition to the ten-minute loss of consciousness, he also alleged a knee contusion for which he received minimal conservative treatment.
It was the opinion of Evans' treating orthopedic surgeon that the wrist fracture caused permanent orthopedic arthritis.
Evans' wife joined in the action, asserting a per quod loss-of-consortium claim.
The defense argued that the avulsion fracture had healed well, and that neither that non-compound fracture, nor any of the claimed injuries, even when considered in their totality, constituted permanent bodily injury sufficiently serious to pierce the verbal tort threshold.
The parties entered into a high-low agreement prior to trial that provided for a $150,000 high and a $20,000 low in the event Evans prevailed on the liability issue.
Evans prevailed on the liability issue, with the jury determining that the accident had been entirely the fault of Kuk.
However the jury further concluded that Evans did not prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the accident had caused Evans permanent bodily injury sufficient to satisfy the requirements of the verbal tort threshold.
This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff's counsel. Defense counsel declined to contribute.