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Fire Truck Driver Ran Red Light Caused Crash Plaintiff Claimed – Settlement: $295,000

Priya Idiculla [VerdictSearch]
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Supreme Court, Twelfth Judicial District, Bronx County, New York.

Carlos Morales v. City N.Y., N.Y.C.F.D., Smith, Shield No. 5323 & Edgardo Sanchez

No. 28754/02

2008 WL 6159896 (N.Y.Sup.)

DATE OF VERDICT/SETTLEMENT: December 01, 2008

SUMMARY:
RESULT: Settlement
The parties negotiated a $295,000 pretrial settlement. The city agreed to contribute $275,000, and Sanchez’s insurer agreed to contribute $20,000.

EXPERT WITNESSES:
Plaintiff: Deepak Patel Orthopedic Surgery, Pompton Plains NJ; Dr. Jadan Abbassi, Pain Management, Plainfield NJ; Simon Lee, Physical Rehabilitation; Clifton, NJ; Yahya Awari, D.C. Chiropractic, Newark, NJ

Defendant: William J. Kulack M.D.; Orthopedics; New York, NY

ATTORNEYS:
Plaintiff; Peter DeFilippis, Esq., Peter DeFilippis & Associates, New York, NY (Carlos Morales)
Defendant: Stacey L. Cohen; Asst. Corp. Counsel; New York, NY (City of New York, Edgardo Sanchez, New York City Fire Department, Philip Smith)

JUDGE: Larry Schacner
STATE: New York
COUNTY: Bronx

INJURIES: Morales presented to a local hospital, and he reported that he was suffering pain that stemmed from his back and neck. He underwent minor treatment.

Facts:
On Dec. 23, 2001, plaintiff Carlos Morales, a 35-year-old unemployed man who was collecting disability benefits {birth defects impair his speech and hearing} , was a seat-belted rear-seat passenger of a vehicle that was being driven by Edgardo Sanchez, who was traveling on the northbound side of Rosedale Avenue, near its intersection at Bruckner Boulevard, in the Bronx. As Sanchez proceeded through the intersection, his vehicle struck the middle of a fire truck that was traveling on the westbound side of Bruckner Boulevard. Morales claimed that he sustained injuries of his back and neck.

The fire truck’s driver did not stop, but he eventually returned to the scene. A police officer who witnessed the collision recorded the driver’s surname as “Smith” and noted a badge number. The name and badge number corresponded with a fireman named Philip Smith.

Morales sued Smith; Smith’s employers, the city of New York and the New York City Fire Department; and Sanchez. Morales alleged that Sanchez and Smith were negligent in the operation of their respective vehicles. Morales further alleged that the remaining defendants were vicariously liable for Smith’s actions.

Morales claimed that Smith ignored a red traffic signal that should have prevented his entrance to the intersection. He contended that the fire truck’s siren and emergency lights were not activated and that, as such, Smith could not have been responding to an emergency. Morales’ counsel claimed that the fire truck’s driver breached the fire department’s rules and protocol by leaving the scene of an accident, by failing to file a report of the incident and by failing to heed a red signal–whether responding to an emergency or not.

Morales also claimed that Sanchez could have avoided the collision.

During his deposition, Smith acknowledged that a fire truck’s operator must heed all red signals–whether responding to an emergency or not. However, he contended that he was not the driver of the fire truck that was involved in the accident, and he claimed that he had never driven that particular truck.

The city contended that the police department’s report of the accident was the only record it had of the accident, though the fire department should have performed multiple loggings of such an incident. The city did not produce any of the other personnel who occupied the truck at the time of the accident, so Judge Paul Victor precluded the testimony of any other firefighter.

Morales ultimately claimed that he sustained a herniation of his L5-S1 intervertebral disc. He contended that the herniation was confirmed by the results of an electromyography and an MRI scan. The MRI scan’s results did not reveal impingement of a nerve, but the EMG revealed an injury of a spinal nerve’s root, radiculopathy and neuroforaminal encroachment, which is the compression of a passage that houses spinal nerves.

Morales underwent about 75 sessions of chiropractic treatment. He also underwent the administration of three sets of epidural injections of steroid-based painkillers. He contended that he suffers residual pain and a residual reduction of his spine’s range of motion, and he claimed that further treatment will be necessary.

Morales sought recovery of about $20,000 for his past medical expenses, an unreported amount for his future medical expenses, and damages for his past and future pain and suffering.

Insurer:
Travelers Property Casualty Corp. for Sanchez

ALM Properties, Inc.
Bronx Supreme

PUBLISHED IN: VerdictSearch New York Reporter Vol. 26, Issue 48

Copyright (c) 2010 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved
2008 WL 6159896 (N.Y.Sup.)