Motor Vehicle – Infant Passenger – Flooding Because Of Clogged Catch Basin – Brain Damage And Spastic Quadriplegia

VERDICT: $16,608,719 for Rodolfo J.; $20,000 for Luis J. for loss of services (6/0). Occhiogrosso settled during trial for $1,750,000. Liability: City 70%; Maldonado 30% negligent.

Breakdown: $464,966 for past medical expenses; $300,000 for past pain and suffering; $62,400 for future physicians’ expenses; $46,800 for future therapy; – $384,800 for future medical expenses; $368,000 for future equipment costs; $12,000,000 for future nursing/ custodial care; $400,000 for housing; $581,753 for impairment of future earning capacity; $2,000,000 for future pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. Post-trial motion pending. See future issue for result.
VII/27-12 Motor Vehicle – Infant Passenger – Flooding Because Of Clogged Catch Basin – Brain Damage And Spastic Quadriplegia

Rodolfo Jamaica, inf. by f/n/g Luis Jamaica and Luis Jamaica, indiv. v. Washington Maldonado, indiv. and as Adm. of the Est. of Susan Maldonado; Frank Occhiogrosso dJb/a Ara Smith Transfer Corp.; and City of New York 17362/86 Liability verdict 10/20/89 Damages verdict 10/30/89 Judge Frank Vaccaro, Kings Supreme

Pltf. Atty: Harvey Weitz of Schneider, Kleinick & Weitz, Manhattan

Deft. Atty: Eric C. Thompson and Carl N. Sanders, Assts. Corp. Counsel, for City; Kenneth V. Madden of Pizzitola & DiBlasi, Brooklyn, for Maldonado; Charles H. Reinhardt of Rivkin, Radler, Dunne & Bayh, Uniondale, for Occhiogrosso

Pltf. Rodolfo Jamaica was age 4 at the time of the accident on 9/26/85. The accident occurred at 3:30 PM on 37th St. in Brooklyn. Pltf. was a passenger in a vehicle driven by Deft. Susan Maldonado (30% liable) which was traveling east on a two-way street which was flooded due to a collapsed catch basin. Deft. Maldonado lost control of the car when she drove into an 81-foot-long puddle stretching across the eastbound traffic lane. The car skidded across the road and struck an oncoming truck driven by Deft. Occhiogrosso (settled during trial). In the accident, Maldonado and one passenger died and Pltf. and another child were severely injured.

Pltf. claimed that the Deft. City (70% liable) had a duty to maintain its streets and sidewalks in a safe condition. The catch basin had been installed during the 1930s to allow water to drain from the roadway. Evident-, ii,dicawj – that the City’s Dept. of Environmental Protection, whose duty it is to maintain sewers and catch basins, received a complaint about the collapsing catch basin on 8/6/85. An EPA employee inspected the basin almost 1 month later, on 9/3/85, and found that it was defective. An order to replace the basin was issued, but work had not yet begun by the date of the accident.

Deft. City claimed that a backlog of higher-priority repairs caused the delay in replacing the catch basin and that it was not fiscally possible to repair the basin and the other high-priority orders at that time. Pltf. argued that budgetary constraints cannot relieve a municipality from maintaining its roadways in a safe condition. Pltf.-also claimed that Deft. failed to prove that it did not have the funds to make the repair.

Multiple skull fractures; chronic subdural hematoma resulting in brain damage and spastic quadriplegia. Pltf. was in a coma for 10 months. He is unable to communicate or care for himself. Pltf.’s experts testified that his injuries are permanent Demonstrative evidence: blowups of accident site; aerial photos. No offer; demand: $6,000,000; amount asked of jury $22,000,000. Jury deliberation: 4 hours on liability; 2 days on damages. Pltf. Experts: Dr. William Head, neurologist, Manhattan; Prof. Alvin Mickens, economist, Manhattan. Deft. Expert: Dr. Abe Chutorfin, pediatric neurologist, Manhattan.


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