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June 24, 2019

Tailgating Driver Precipitated Four-car Crash, Lawsuits Alleged

SETTLEMENT $2,225,000
CASE Nikolay V. Kukharev and Ivan A. Gokieli v. Josephine T. Chell; Jared Pratt; Norman K. Borden, Jr.; MV Public Transportation, Inc.; NYCTA; MTA; & NYC Transit, Paratransit Division, No. 501363/12
CASE Jared Pratt v. MTA, Manhattan and Bronx Surface Authority and Manhattan and Bronx Operating Authoriy, New York City Transit Authority, New York City Transit, Paratransit Division aka NYC; Trans div; of Paratransit, MTA Bus Company, MV Public Transportation Inc., Norman K. Borden, Jr., Josephine Chelli. Nockolay V. Kukharev and John Doe 1-5, No. 502301/12
COURT
JUDGE
DATE
Kings Supreme
Kenneth P. Sherman
6/18/2018
PLAINTIFF
ATTORNEY(S)
Peter Defilippis, Peter Defilippis & Associates, P.C., Dobbs Ferry, NY (Jared Pratt)

Irene Gabo, Law Office of Yuriy Prakhin, P.C., Brooklyn, NY (Ivan A. Gokieli, Nikoly V. Kukharev)

DEFENSE
ATTORNEY(S)
Cesar O. Bilbao, Law Office of James J. Toomey, New York, NY (Josephine T. Chell)

Kenneth E. Pinczower, Gialleonardo, McDonald & Turchetti, New York, NY
(Nikoly V. Kukharev)

Joseph Scarglato, Gallo Vitucci Klar LLP, New York, NY (Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority, New York City Transit Authority, MTA Bus Co., MV Public Transportation Inc., New York City Transit, Paratransit Division, Norman K. Borden Jr.)

None reported (Jared Pratt)

FACTS & ALLEGATIONS

On Aug. 26, 2011, plaintiff Nikoly Kukharev, 59, a contractor, was driving on the westbound side of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, which joins Brooklyn and Staten Island. Plaintiff Ivan Gokieli, 54, a dealer of antiques, was a passenger. Plaintiff Jared Pratt, 73, a teacher, was also driving on the westbound side of the bridge, a short distance behind Kukharev’s car and following a car that was being driven by Josephine Chell, who was directly behind Kukharev’s car. While all three motorists were stopped in traffic, Pratt’s car was struck by a trailing paratransit van that was being driven by Norman Borden Jr. Pratt’s car was propelled forward, and it struck the rear end of Chell’s car. Chell’s car was propelled forward, and it struck the rear end of Kukharev’s car. Gokieli claimed that he suffered an injury of his back. Kukharev claimed that he suffered an injury of a knee. Pratt claimed that she suffered injuries of her neck.

Gokieli and Kukharev sued Chell; Pratt; Borden; Borden’s employer, MV Public Transportation Inc.; the owner of Borden’s van, New York City Transit, Paratransit Division; and the latter entity’s parents, the New York City Transit Authority and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The lawsuit alleged that Chell, Pratt and Borden were negligent in the operation of their respective vehicles. The lawsuit further alleged that the remaining defendants were vicariously liable for Borden’s actions.

In a separate filing, Pratt sued Chell; Kukharev; Borden; MV Public Transportation; New York City Transit, Paratransit Division; the New York City Transit Authority; the Metropolitan Transportation Authority; and two of the latter entity’s subsidiaries, MT A Bus Co. and the Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority. The lawsuit alleged that Chell, Kukharev and Borden were negligent in the operation of their respective vehicles. The lawsuit further alleged that the remaining defendants were vicariously liable for Borden’s actions.

The lawsuits were consolidated.

Kukharev, Gokieli and Pratt claimed that the accident was precipitated by Borden’s vehicle having struck Pratt’s vehicle. They contended that Borden failed to exercise due caution.

Kukharev and Gokieli also claimed that the accident’s contributing factors included Pratt and Chell having stopped unnecessarily suddenly, and Pratt claimed that she stopped because Chell and Kukharev had stopped unnecessarily suddenly.

Borden conceded that he was tailgating Pratt’s vehicle and was distracted during the moments that preceded the accident. The remaining motorists claimed that they were driving safely.

Summary judgment motions resulted in the finding that Borden was negligent with regard to the accident and that Pratt was not liable for any part of the accident.

INJURIES/DAMAGES

anterolisthesis; bone graft; corpectomy; derangement, cervical; disc protrusion, lumbar; discectomy; foraminotomylforaminectomy; fracture, CS; fracture, C6; fracture, neck; fracture, transverse process; fracture, vertebra; fusion, cervical; fusion, lumbar; hardware implanted; infection; knee replacement; lordosis; nerve impingement; osteoarthritis; physical therapy; pins/rods/ screws; plate; prosthesis; radiculopathy; reconstructive surgery; spondylosis

Gokieli was retrieved by an ambulance, and he was transported to Richmond University Medical Center, m Richmond County. He underwent minor treatment.

Gokieli ultimately claimed that he suffered trauma that produced a protrusion of his L5-S1 intervertebral disc. He claimed that the disc caused impingement of a spinal nerve and resultant radiculopathy. He also claimed that his spine’s cervical region suffered derangement that led to spondylosis, a compressive condition.

On Sept. 28, 2012, Gokieli underwent surgery that involved fusion of his spine’s L5-S1 level, application of a stabilizing graft of bony matter, and the implantation of stabilizing hardware, which included a cage, rods and screws. On Dec. 11, 2015, he underwent surgery that addressed his spine’s C4-5, CS-6 and C6-7 levels. The procedure included a corpectomy, which involved excision of a portion of his C6 vertebra; a discectomy, which involved excision of his C4-5 disc; a foraminotomy, which involved enlargement of passages that housed spinal nerves; fusion of his spine’s C4-5, CS-6 and C6-7 levels; application of a stabilizing graft of bony matter; and implantation of stabilizing hardware, which included a cage, a plate and screws.

Gokieli claimed that he was housebound during the two months that followed the accident and the month that followed his first surgery. He also claimed that his injuries prevented his performance of about 12 months of work. He further claimed that he suffers residual pain and limitations.

Gokieli sought recovery of $20,000 for past lost earnings, unspecified damages for past pain and suffering, and unspecified damages for future pain and suffering.

Kukharev was retrieved by an ambulance, and he was transported to Richmond University Medical Center. He underwent minor treatment.

Kukharev ultimately claimed that he suffered an injury of his left knee. He claimed that the knee developed resultant osteoarthritis. During a period that spanned December 2011 and February 2012, he underwent administration of a total of four injections of joint-lubricating medication. On April 26, 2012, he underwent replacement of his left knee. The procedure was followed by a short course of physical therapy. In July 2015, Kukharev underwent reconstruction of his left knee. The knee developed a residual infection that necessitated replacement of its prosthesis. The replacement was performed in September 2015.

Kukharev claimed that his injuries prevented his performance of a week of work. He further claimed that he suffers residual pain and limitations.

Kukharev sought recovery of $1,100 for past lost earnings, unspecified damages for past pain and suffering, and unspecified damages for future pain and suffering.

Pratt was retrieved by an ambulance, and she was transported to Lutheran Medical Center, in Brooklyn. An X-ray revealed fractures of transverse processes of her CS and C6 vertebrae. Pratt claimed that the injuries were a product of the accident. She underwent minor treatment.

Pratt claimed that she also suffered trauma that disrupted the cervical lordosis, which is the normal curvature of the spine’s cervical region, and trauma that caused anterolisthesis, which involves displacement of a vertebra.

On Nov. 14, 2011, Pratt commenced a course of physical therapy. The treatment lasted until April 4, 2012. Pratt also underwent 11 sessions of neurological evaluation, spanning November 2011 and May 2014.

Pratt claimed that she suffers residual pain and limitations that hinder her performance of basic physical activities, such as bending her torso, lifting objects or performing overhead activities. She also claimed that her pain prevents her tolerance of prolonged periods in which she is standing. She claimed that she enjoys sculpting, but that her residual effects restrict her performance of that activity.

Pratt sought recovery of damages for past and future pain and suffering.

RESULT

The parties negotiated a pretrial settlement. The plaintiffs recovered a total of $2,225,000.

Gokieli’s share was $1,375,000. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority agreed to pay $1,365,000, and Chell’s insurer agreed to pay $10,000.

Kukharev’s share was $400,000. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority agreed to pay $387,500, and Chell’s insurer agreed to pay $12,500.

Pratt’s share was $450,000. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority agreed to pay $445,000; Chell’s insurer agreed to pay $2,500; and Kukharev’s insurer agreed to pay $2,500.

The settlement’s negotiations were facilitated by Justice Kenneth Sherman.

INSURER(S) Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. for Kukharev

Travelers Property Casualty Corp. for Chell

PLAINTIFF
EXPERT(S)
Howard I. Baum, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Brooklyn, NY (did not testify)

Nicholas M. Bellizzi, P.E., engineering, Holmdel, NJ (did not testify)

DEFENSE
EXPERT(S)
Douglas S. Cohen, M.D., neurosurgery, Staten Island, NY (did not testify)

David A. Fisher, M.D., radiology, Lindenhurst, NY (did not testify)

P. Leo Varriale, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Garden City, NY (did not testify)

EDITOR’S NOTE

This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiffs’ counsel and counsel of Borden, the Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, MTA Bus, MV Public Transportation, the New York City Transit Authority, and New York City Transit, Paratransit Division. Chell’s coun­sel did not respond to the reporter’s phone calls; Kukharev’s defense counsel declined to contribute; and Pratt’s defense counsel was not asked to contribute.

-Harmony Birch