SUMMARIES WITH TRIAL ANALYSIS
This matter was the one heard contemporaneously to a second as- bestos trial. That case, Dummitt vs. A.W. Chesterton (190459- 2010), resulted in a $32 million plaintiff verdict on a product liabil- ity action as reported above. Plaintiff’s counsel in both cases was
Belluck & Fox. As previously noted, no punitive damages were sought in either matter due to an order in New York law which has indefinitely deferred all asbestos verdicts containing punitive damages.
$9,185,000 VERDICT – MOTOR VEHICLE NEGLIGENCE – AUTO/BICYCLE COLLISION – CAB DRIVER OPENS PARKED CAB DOOR INTO PLAINTIFF BICYCLIST AND KNOCKS HIM TO GROUND – LOW RIDING BUS THEN STRIKES AND DRAGS PLAINTIFF WITH LEG CAUGHT IN TIRE – PLAINTIFF REQUIRES EXTRICATION BY FIREFIGHTERS – SEVERE DEGLOVING INJURY TO LEG AND TESTICLE – SKIN GRAFT SURGERIES – FRIABLE SKIN.
New York County, NY
The plaintiff bicyclist, 39 years old at the time of the accident, contended that the defendant cab driver negligently failed to make observations before opening the driver’s side door of his parked cab on the traffic side into plaintiff, knocking the plaintiff to the roadway. The plaintiff also contended that the defendant driver of a low riding hybrid bus, who also failed to make observations, went over him and his bike causing his leg to be jammed up against the tire of the bus. The plaintiff contended that despite the fact that the plaintiff’s companion ran alongside the bus shouting, the bus continued moving while the plaintiff’s leg was pinned by the tire and his torso under the bus. The plaintiff sought damages for his resultant skin graft surgeries and delicate friable skin condition thereafter.
At trial, the plaintiff maintained that as he riding his bike on the east side of 10th Avenue, the cab driver who was parked on the east side of the avenue, opened his driver door on the traffic side into him knocking him off his bike to the ground in violation of a New York City regulation. The plaintiff contended that the defendant bus driver negligently failed to keep the plaintiff in his view and traveled too close to the parking line and the plaintiff. The bus went over the plaintiff, trapping him under the bus, pinned by the front right wheel.
The plaintiff maintained that although his companion ran alongside the bus yelling for the driver to stop and pounded on the window by the front doors, the bus driver failed to realize that the plaintiff was being pushed by the wheel of the bus, continuing for ap- proximately one-third of a block. The plaintiff con- tended that finally, the waving of arms and shouting of others in front of him caused the driver of the bus to stop. The plaintiff was extricated by FDNY who had to jack up the bus and the plaintiff was then taken to the hospital.
The defendant cab driver denied opening the cab door into the plaintiff and maintained that the plaintiff fell on his own. The plaintiff countered that eyewitness testimony supported the plaintiff’s position. The cab driver also contended that the bus driver caused the
injuries to the plaintiff. The bus driver contended that he was concentrating on the traffic to his left and that he was not negligent because he was in his lane. The bus driver also contended that it was not foreseeable that the bicyclist would fall or be hit by the cab’s door and caused to fall close to the line dividing the traffic from the parking lane. The bus driver further main- tained that the plaintiff’s injuries were caused entirely by the negligence of the cab driver.
The plaintiff maintained that he suffered extensive degloving injuries of the left leg from knee to his hip and of his left testicle. The plaintiff also sustained frac- tures of his pelvis and right ankle. The plaintiff was an in-patient from the time of the June 19, 2006 incident until August 3, 2006. He underwent some five surger- ies, including extensive repair of his leg and testicle and large skin grafting procedure. He also underwent intensive physical and occupational therapy in the hospital to relearn how to walk and perform activities of daily living. The plaintiff required visiting nurse ser- vices at home for dressing changes and continued physical therapy at home followed by ambulatory care at the hospital for treatment by dermatologists, orthopedists and plastic surgeons for two years.
The plaintiff contended that the extensive leg scar- ring, disfigurement, abnormal skin condition and lack of sensation are permanent. The plaintiff also main- tained that he permanently suffers some difficulty with urination because of scar tissue pulling on the testi- cle. The plaintiff also related that because of the loss of fat on the affected portion of the leg, the skin is di- rectly on muscle and does not slide. The plaintiff con- tended that the loss of this fat cushion and the nature of the grafted skin have caused his skin to become very friable and subject to cracking and bleeding. The plaintiff maintained that he will permanently be subject to such injuries, and although he attempts to engage in some of his prior activities, he will perma- nently be precluded from jogging and biking which he greatly enjoyed. The plaintiff also contended that he will permanently be required to avoid exposing the leg to sunlight.
The jury found the bus driver 70% negligent, the cab driver 30% negligent and declined to assess any comparative negligence against the plaintiff. They
Volume 28, Issue 9, September 2011