Slow-moving truck caused accident, motorist claimed
|Work Zone, Motor Vehicle - Dangerous Condition, Motor Vehicle - Sideswipe, Motor Vehicle - Truck, Motor Vehicle - Multiple Vehicle|
|Randy Loachino v. Christopher Fardella Traffic Safety Service, LLC. and B & H Engineering PC., No. 2977/09|
|Queens Supreme, NY|
|Dennis J. Kerrigan
- John Dalli; Dalli & Marino, L.L.P.; Mineola, NY, for Randy Loachino
- Nicholas Bellizzi P.E.; Engineering; Holmdel, NJ called by: John Dalli
- Kerin Hausknecht M.D.; Neurology; Valley Stream, NY called by: John Dalli
- Stephen J. DonnellyJr.; Tromello, McDonnell & Kehoe; Melville, NY, for Christopher Fardella, Traffic Safety Service, LLC
- Marc S. Krieg; Krieg Associates; Dix Hills, NY, for B & H Engineering, P.C.
- Peter Pomeranz P.E.; Engineering; Massapequa, NY called by: Stephen Donnelly, Marc Krieg
- William Head Jr.; Neuropsychiatry; Staten Island, NY called by: Stephen Donnelly, Marc Krieg
- CNA for Fardella and Traffic Safety Service
- Travelers Property Casualty Corp. for B & H Engineering
On Dec. 1, 2008, plaintiff Randy Loachino, 37, a bus mechanic, was driving in the center westbound lane of the Long Island Expressway, near its interchange at Maurice Avenue, in the Maspeth section of Queens. While he was merging into the left lane, his vehicle collided with the right side of an electronic sign that was being towed by a slowly moving truck that was being driven by Christopher Fardella. The incident occurred moments after Fardella had completed an inspection of the expressway's left lane and removed the last of a set of traffic cones that had been deployed in the lane. Loachino claimed that he sustained injuries of his face, his head and his jaw.
Loachino sued Fardella; the owner of Fardella's truck, Traffic Safety Service, LLC; and the company that had hired Traffic Safety Service to perform the inspection of the expressway, B & H Engineering, P.C. Loachino alleged that Fardella was negligent in the operation of his truck. Loachino further alleged that the remaining defendants were vicariously liable for Fardella's actions.
Loachino claimed that he was following a large box truck and that, as a result, he did not have a prolonged view of Fardella's truck and was thusly unaware that it was barely moving. He contended that the traffic cones had been removed moments before he reached the area and that, as a result, he was unaware that the left lane had been closed. He also claimed that the electronic sign was folded in a nonoperational position and was not illuminated.
Loachino further claimed that a "crash cushion" was attached to the rear of the electronic sign that Fardella's truck was towing, but that the cushion was folded in a nonoperational position when the accident occurred. Loachino's counsel contended that the cushion should have been fully deployed and that, if deployed, it would have reduced the severity of the collision.
Fardella's counsel contended that Fardella's truck occupied an open lane of traffic and that signs had disclosed that an inspection was being performed. As such, he claimed that Loachino should have been aware of possible hazards and should have easily noticed Fardella's truck. He contended that Loachino was speeding and inattentive.
Fardella's counsel also contended that New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1103 specifies that highway workers, while engaged in the course of their duties, cannot be deemed liable for accidents absent a finding of recklessness, and he claimed that Loachino could not establish recklessness.
B & H Engineering's counsel contended that his company did not control or supervise the inspection or Fardella's operation of his truck.
Loachino sustained an injury of his head; a fracture of his mandible; a fracture of an orbital bone, which is a component of an eye socket; and a fracture of his left zygomatic arch, which is the prominence of the left cheek.
Loachino was placed in an ambulance, and he was transported to a hospital. He underwent open reduction and internal fixation of the fracture of his jaw. After nine days had passed, his fractured eye socket was addressed via open reduction and the internal fixation of a metal plate. Loachino claimed that his injuries prevented his performance of about six weeks of work.
Loachino also claimed that his head's injury resulted in minor damage of his brain. He contended that he suffers residual effects that include impairment of his sense of olfaction, impairment of his ability to perceive flavor, impairment of his memory and impairment of his ability to concentrate. He also bears a residual scar of the top of his head.
Loachino sought recovery of about $25,000 for past lost earnings and unspecified damages for past and future pain and suffering.
Defense counsel contended that Loachino did not sustain an injury of his brain, and they claimed that any cognitive impairment is a product of Tourette syndrome.
After the selection of a jury, but prior to the scheduled start of the trial, the parties negotiated a settlement. B & H Engineering's insurer agreed to pay $650,000, and the insurer of Fardella and Traffic Safety Service agreed to pay $100,000. Thus, the settlement totaled $750,000.
This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff's counsel and B & H Engineering's counsel. The remaining defendants' counsel did not respond to the reporter's phone calls.