Partners Joe Guzzardo and Matt Littman obtained a unanimous jury defense verdict on July 12, 2017 following a 5 week trial in Brooklyn. Plaintiff’s counsel demanded $6 million (the extent of our clients’ coverage) for his client, a bicyclist who had been gravely injured after co-defendant’s SUV ran him over at an intersection in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn.
Plaintiff, 38 years old at the time of the accident, claimed bilateral, open leg fractures requiring insertion of titanium rods, blood transfusions, skin grafts, debridement, and a fasciotomy. He claimed permanent disability from his injuries and plaintiff’s economic experts projected lost wages and future health care costs in excess of our clients’ coverage. We represented the City of New York and its general contractor, which had been performing work at the subject intersection for several years prior to the plaintiff’s accident. The plaintiff claimed that our clients’ barriers and signage in the intersection created a line of sight obstruction which was a cause of the accident.
Plaintiff claimed that although he saw the SUV a second or two prior to impact, his vision was obstructed by the barriers and signs; the co-defendant motorist, on the other hand, never saw the plaintiff before running him over, claiming that his failure to see the plaintiff might have been the result of the obstruction of his view. The co-defendant had a limited policy of $50,000, which had been offered years earlier. As a result, co-defendant’s counsel was admittedly a “potted plant” during the trial, leaving it to our defense team to prove that plaintiff was the sole proximate cause of the accident.
Plaintiff presented a liability expert in the field of traffic safety, who testified that our clients’ placement of barriers and signage violated the Manual for Uniform Traffic Controls, which has been adopted nationwide as the “bible” for installation of traffic control devices. Although we claimed that our municipal client was entitled to the defense of qualified immunity, the trial judge found that there was insufficient proof that an adequate study had been performed regarding visibility at the intersection. As such, the jury was asked only to consider whether our clients were negligent.
Despite plaintiff and co-defendant targeting our clients as the responsible parties, and despite multiple adverse rulings from the trial judge, the jury agreed with our arguments made throughout the trial that plaintiff was the sole proximate cause of the accident, finding him 100% at fault. Plaintiff’s recovery was limited to the $50,000 policy limits of the co-defendant, which plaintiff accepted shortly after the jury began deliberations.
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