$6,000,000 Settlement for Passenger on an NYC Transit Authority Bus That Collided with a Flatbed Truck in Brooklyn

DATE OF SETTLEMENT

September 21, 2006

COURT AND COUNTY

Supreme Court, Kings County

AGE AND OCCUPATION OF PLAINTIFF

At the time of the accident, the Plaintiff, a male, was 34 years old and unemployed.

DESCRIPTION OF CASE

On March 1, 2002, Plaintiff was a passenger on a bus that was traveling in the center lane of westbound North Conduit Boulevard, near its intersection at Crescent Street in Brooklyn. When the bus reached the intersection, the bus driver began to execute a right turn onto northbound Crescent Street when it collided with a flatbed truck that was being driven by Defendant. Defendant truck driver was traveling in the right lane of westbound North Conduit Boulevard and was preceding straight through the intersection.

Plaintiff sued the bus driver, the New York City Transit Authority, the owner of the bus, the driver of the flatbed and the owner of the flatbed truck. Plaintiff alleged that co-defendants were negligent in the operation of their respective vehicles and that the remaining defendants were vicariously liable for the actions of the drivers of their respective vehicles.


Plaintiff claimed that he did not observe the manner in which the collision occurred. The bus driver claimed that the truck moved forward into the side of the bus when one-half to two-thirds of the bus had already completed the turn.

The New York City Transit Authority's counsel presented one of the bus's passengers, who claimed that co-defendant flatbed operator was speaking on a cell phone during the moments that immediately preceded the collision. Co-defendant flatbed operator's cell phone bill was entered into evidence and indicated that an incoming call was received at or about the time of impact and lasted three minutes.

The New York City Transit Authority's accident-reconstruction expert opined co-defendant flatbed operator should have seen the approaching bus through his vehicle's side-view mirror and that co-defendant flatbed operator also should have heard the noise of the approaching bus, given that co-defendant flatbed operator testified that the windows of the truck's cab were open at the time of the accident.

Co-defendant flatbed operator denied using the cell phone but testified that he could not recall if he was using a two-way walkie-talkie at the time of the incident. His wife testified that her husband never carried the cell phone during the work week.

Co-defendant owner of the flatbed's accident-reconstruction expert opined that the impact was inevitable, given the starting position and turning angle of the bus at the commencement of its turn. He also contended that the bus would have hit the truck even if the truck had not moved forward.

All of the parties involved agreed that the impact involved was very heavy and that it appeared that the bus might tip over at one juncture.

INJURIES/DAMAGES

EMS personnel arrived, and Plaintiff suffered pain that stemmed from his left, nondominant, shoulder. Plaintiff was transported to the emergency room of Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, where he underwent minor treatment.

Plaintiff ultimately sustained a disc herniation at L5-S1 and tears of several ligaments of his left knee and left shoulder. He also claimed that he developed a disc bulge at L4-5. He immediately commenced an extensive regimen of weekly physical therapy, and the treatment is ongoing.

On May 23, 2002, Plaintiff underwent surgical repair of his left shoulder. On July 23, 2003, he underwent a second surgery that addressed the shoulder. His knee injuries were repaired via surgery that was performed April 22, 2003.

On June 4, 2004, Plaintiff underwent surgery that included a lumbar laminectomy, which is the excision of a lumbar vertebra's posterior arch, and a facetectomy, which is the removal of one or more of the flat, platelike surfaces that act as vertebral joints. On Nov 3, 2005, he underwent anterior and posterior fusion of his spine's L5 and S1 levels. The procedure also included the insertion of fixation hardware.

Plaintiff currently ambulates with the assistance of a walker. His treating spinal surgeon recommended physical therapy and a muscle-strengthening program for Plaintiff's legs, which had become deconditioned.

Plaintiff sought recovery of about $325,000 for his past medical expenses, unspecified future medical expenses and unspecified damages for his past and future pain and suffering.

The defense contended that Plaintiff's injuries stemmed from degenerative conditions that were not causally related to the accident.

SETTLEMENT AMOUNT

After the trial's third week, the parties agreed to $6 million settlement, which occurred one day prior to the scheduled start of the liability phase's summations. The New York City Transit Authority agreed to contribute $3.9 million. The owner of the flatbed truck's primary insurer agreed to contribute $1 million and their excess insurer agreed to contribute $1.1 million.

ATTORNEYS

This matter was handled by Daniel P. O'Toole, Esq.