The 40 year old plaintiff, a husband and father of 2 young daughters contended that the defendant inebriated driver crossed over the center line, causing the head-on collision, that occurred at approximately 9:00 p.m. The collision occurred on St. Patrick’s Day, which was a Sunday. The plaintiff maintained that after the defendant worked all night, he began drinking at a friends and visited two taverns before going to the defendant tavern. The plaintiff maintained that the defendant driver, who indicated he was inebriated by the time he went to the defendant tavern, was served at that location for approximately 3-4 hours. The plaintiff would have argued that the defendant driver was clearly served when visibly intoxicated.
The evidence reflected that after leaving the tavern at approximately 7 p.m., the defendant driver went to a friend’s apartment in Belmar, and that shortly before9:00 p.m., and over his friends’ objections, he decided to get into his vehicle and attempt to drive to the Hazlet home of his wife, from whom he was separated.
The plaintiff would have presented two witnesses who observed the defendant driving on the wrong side of the road and against oncoming traffic, and swerving in and out of lanes at an excessive speed. Based on their observations, they called 911 from their car and attempted to follow the defendant driver’s vehicle, but at 70 mph they could not keep pace with him.
The head-on collision occurred a short time later. The defendant driver had a BAC of .186%
The plaintiff’s orthopedist would have testified that the plaintiff suffered comminuted fractures of the tibial plateau that was initially treated with an external fixation device. The plaintiff underwent surgery to reconstruct the tibia eight days later that entailed the use of three plates and 25 screws.
The plaintiff underwent a third surgery several months later.
The plaintiff contended that the recuperation period was very painful and difficult, and that because of difficulties with stairs, he stayed on the lower level of his home.
The plaintiff maintained that he will suffer extensive permanent pain and difficulties ambulating and because of bone abrading on bone in the knee area, he will probably suffer arthritis in the future and may well need knee replacement surgery.
The plaintiff returned to his job as a corrections officer slightly less than one year following the accident and indicated that he was able to do so only because his employer and co-workers have modified his work situation, placing him in an area of the jail where he does not have to directly interact with inmates, and where he does not need to negotiate stairs.
The defendant driver had a $500,000 policy. The case settled immediately before trial for $500,000, including $400,000 from the defendant driver and $100,000 from the tavern.
Plaintiff’s orthopedic surgical expert: . David Polonet, MD.
R.F. vs. A.A., et al..; Judge Jamie Perri, 03-17-14.
Attorney for plaintiff : Charles A. Cerussi and Jaclyn A. Gannon of Cerussi & Gunn, PC in Shrewsbury, NJ.