Plaintiff: Broadside crash led to carpal tunnel syndrome
|Broadside, Motor Vehicle - Stop Sign, Motor Vehicle - Verbal Threshold, Motor Vehicle - Intersection, Motor Vehicle - Multiple Vehicle|
|Robert Dyas, Amanda S. Dyas and Bakeworks LLC v. Micah K. Brandt and Neil F. Brandt, No. ATL-L-4563-10|
|Atlantic County Superior Court, NJ|
|Joseph E. Kane
- Michael J. Malinsky; Fitzgerald, McGroarty & Malinsky, PA; Linwood, NJ, for Robert Dyas, Amanda Dyas, Bakeworks LLC
- Joseph P. McGroarty; Fitzgerald, McGroarty & Malinsky, PA; Linwood, NJ, for Robert Dyas, Amanda Dyas, Bakeworks LLC
- Richard Islinger M.D.; Orthopedic Surgery; Somers Point, NJ called by: Joseph McGroarty, Michael Malinsky
- Darren T. Hibbs; Law Office of Anthony P. Castellani; Marlton, NJ, for Micah Brandt, Neil Brandt
- GEICO for both defendants
On Sept. 12, 2008, plaintiff Robert Dyas, 36, a baker, was driving the delivery van used for deliveries for his closely held bakery business. His wife, Amanda Dyas, was a belted front-seat passenger.
While they were traveling along Shore Road in Linwood, a vehicle being driven by Micah Brandt (with the permissive use of Neil Brandt) allegedly disregarded a stop sign at Garfield Street and failed to yield the right-of-way to Dyas' delivery van; the front of the van broadsided the Brandt vehicle. The accident caused Dyas to suffer bilateral wrist injury that required surgery, Dyas claimed.
Dyas sued the Brandts for negligence, seeking compensation for his alleged bodily injuries. (Because of damage to custom bakery products in the van, his business also joined in the action, asserting a property-loss claim.)
Liability was stipulated, and the matter proceeded to trial as to damages-related issues, with the defense disputing that Dyas' personal-injury claims vaulted the verbal tort threshold limitation barring recovery for personal injury in a motor vehicle accident absent objective medical evidence of permanent bodily injury.
Dyas' wife was pregnant at the time of the accident and, out of concern for her condition, she was taken to a local emergency room for examination following the collision. Dyas followed in another vehicle. Amanda Dyas reportedly did not suffer serious injury on account of the accident with Brandt, and did not assert any independent claims for bodily injury. She did join in the action on a per quod loss-of-consortium claim, but that claim was not pursued at trial.
While at the emergency room, Dyas complained of pain and numbness in both of his wrists. He was advised to consult with an orthopedic specialist, which he did. Within a month of the accident, EMG testing was positive for bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome. In November 2008, Dyas underwent corrective surgery on his right (dominant) wrist. In February 2009, he had similar surgery on his left wrist.
Dyas claimed he was left with two large surgical scars, and that he continues to experience numbness and tenderness over the length of the surgical scars. He also complains of a loss of his grip strength in both hands.
Dyas did not assert a specific wage-loss claim, as his absence from work was covered by workers' compensation insurance.
The defense agreed to pay the stipulated sum of $1,200 for the bakery-product loss claim, regardless of the outcome of the personal injury claim.
However, the defense argued that Dyas' carpel tunnel syndrome condition was not causally related to the accident with Brandt. Even if it was, the defense argued, his successful surgery left him with no serious permanent bodily injury, and his residual complaints of some numbness and tenderness were not sufficient to satisfy the verbal threshold.
The jury returned a $400,000 damages award.
Following the verdict, but prior to the entry of judgment, the parties agreed to a $100,000 settlement, in reflection of the coverage limits under the relevant policy. Pursuant to the agreement, the defense waived the right of any appeal.
This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiffs' counsel. Defense counsel declined to contribute.