$8,800,000 Settlement For Victim in Queens Pedestrian Accident Who Suffered a Brain Injury

This suit was brought against New York City as well as the drivers of two different vans. The vans collided at the intersection of 103rd Avenue and 93rd Street. Each road had a stop sign prominently positioned at the corner and the words "Stop" printed in the street. However the stop sign on the 103rd Street side was partially blocked by a neighboring tree. Despite the driver on 103rd Street initially claiming he stopped at the stop sign, trial lawyers Stephen Murphy and David Scher were able to prove that the driver went through the stop sign and successfully argued that one of the reasons he went through the stop sign was because it was obscured by a problematic tree. The tree, they established, would block the stop sign consistently as the foliage would mature each year. To accomplish this, Block O'Toole & Murphy conducted a massive investigation, locating witnesses in the area who complained to the city about the problem. They also uncovered police and parks department paperwork that verified that the City was on some level aware that this stop sign could become blocked and that the intersection was dangerous. They also showed that the City had an opportunity to correct the problem but neglected to do so. In fact, they introduced evidence that a City employee went to the intersection but remedied the wrong stop sign by pruning a tree across the street in the months before the collision.

When the vans collided, the van driving on 103rd Avenue was thrust on to the sidewalk where it struck the unwary plaintiff, a woman, 53. The plaintiff was on her way to pick up her grandchildren from school. The forceful impact slammed her into an adjacent front stoop. She was rendered unconscious and rushed to the hospital.

The plaintiff suffered a traumatic brain injury that required immediate surgery. In addition she sustained nerve damage in her shoulder, broken ribs and other orthopedic injuries. She remained hospitalized for 6 weeks and then underwent a rigorous inpatient rehabilitation program. She still has some neurologic and cognitive issues.

Block O'Toole & Murphy retained well credentialed experts to testify about the liability - - pointing heavily at the City as being a responsible party for the accident - - and a tree expert to analyze the tree in question. The firm also brought into the fold a neurologic expert, a neurosurgeon and a physician that outlined the future medical care that the plaintiff would require to make sure no stone was left unturned.

On the eve of jury selection, the City agreed to pay $7,500,000. The remaining defendants contributed their entire insurance amounts, $1,300,000 to reach the settlement figure of $8,800,000. The settlement will give comfort to the plaintiff and her family. They will always have the ability to pay for expensive future medical care and assistance should the need arise. "This was a sad case and a difficult battle because initially the City claimed they had no responsibility for the accident," said trial attorney Stephen J. Murphy. The City increased their offer to $7,500,000, thus meeting the firm's figure to settle only hours before jury selection was about to begin. "Again, we were able to help good people in need. You never get tired of that," added attorney David L. Scher.

The case was handled by firm partners Stephen Murphy and David Scher.