The Plaintiff, a now thirty (30) year old office manager, was the operator of a Jeep stopped at a red traffic signal in the Eastbound direction of travel on Hempstead Turnpike in Levittown, New York. Plaintiff was stopped at the red traffic signal, intending on making a left hand turn into the Waldbaum's shopping center.
The Defendant was driving a 2003 Ford and was leaving a Waldbaum's shopping plaza, intending on making a right hand turn onto Hempstead Turnpike, in the Westbound direction of travel. As Defendant's vehicle approached a red traffic signal, located at the exit to the shopping center at the intersection of Hempstead Turnpike, Defendant opened her vehicle door and fell out of her car, which then continued to proceed into the Westbound lane of travel on Hempstead Turnpike. (Defendant was deceased prior to party depositions and therefore the reason Defendant opened her vehicle door and what caused her to fall out of the car are unknown).
At the same time, Defendant Tuccillo was driving a 2006 Cadillac Escalade vehicle westbound on Hempstead Turnpike, with a green traffic signal. As Defendant Nicholson's vehicle proceeded through the red traffic signal, Defendant Nicholson's vehicle struck the rear passenger side of Defendant Tuccillo's vehicle, causing Defendant Tuccillo's vehicle to be pushed into the eastbound lanes of travel on Hempstead Turnpike. The front of Defendant Tuccillo's vehicle struck the front of Plaintiff's vehicle, which remained stopped at the traffic signal.
By decision dated January 11, 2008, the Honorable Michele M. Woodard granted Plaintiff summary judgment on the issue of liability as against Defendants World Auto Group, Inc.,d/b/a Auto World Kia and James Nicholson, As administrator of the Estate of Jane A. Nicholson, deceased.
The court also granted Defendant Tuccillo's motion for summary judgment on the issue of liability.
Plaintiff experienced immediate pain to the head and neck at the scene of the accident, but refused medical attention. Two days later, on December 12, 2005, Plaintiff presented to Winthrop University Hospital, with complaints of increased head and neck pain. Plaintiff was treated and released.
MRI's examinations of the cervical spine and brain, performed on December 28, 2005, were normal, however Plaintiff continued to experience headaches and neck pain. Plaintiff began a course of conservative treatment.
On January 8, 2007 repeat MRI's of the cervical spine and brain were performed, revealing the presence of a Chiari I Malformation, a congenital disorder whereby the cerebellar tonsils descend from the brain into the cervical spine.
As a result of her ongoing complaints of headaches and neck pain, Plaintiff underwent a spinal cord untethering surgery, with an L4 laminectomy and L3 and L5 laminotomy, performed on October 22, 2007 by Dr. Paolo Bolognese. Plaintiff's symptoms continued and Plaintiff ultimately underwent a Posterior Fossa Decompression with duraplasty, performed on October 6, 2009 by Dr. Bolognese.
Plaintiff alleged that as a result of the accident, Plaintiff's pre-existing Chiari I Malformation became symptomatic. Plaintiff claimed that as a result of her condition, she would require lifelong medical care.
Defendants claimed that Plaintiff's symptoms were pre-existing and completely unrelated to the accident.