NEW YORK, NY (TIP) : In the case of Fata Krluc v. The City of New York, et. al (Supreme Court, Queens County, Index Number: 20275/11), New York injury lawyers Block O’Toole & Murphy, LLP have secured an Eight Million Eight Hundred Thousand ($8,800,000) Dollar settlement for a Queens woman who suffered a brain injury in an accident alleged to be caused, in part, by a stop sign that was partially covered by tree branches. The City of New York, a Defendant in the case, paid $7,500,000 toward the $8,800,000 result.
The parties reached the settlement on January 7, 2014, two days before jury selection for the trial was scheduled to begin in Queens County, where the case was pending. According to the pleadings and deposition testimony of the parties, the accident occurred on June 3, 2011 at approximately 2:30pm, at the intersection of 103rd Avenue and 93rd Street in the Ozone Park neighborhood of Queens, New York. Plaintiff was a 51 year old woman, originally from Bosnia, who worked at a Manhattan hotel as a housekeeper and lived in a multi-family home with her two sons, two daughtersin- law and two grandsons. At the time of the accident, Plaintiff was walking along 103rd Avenue, on her way from her home to pick up her grandsons from their local elementary school.
According to various documents, including Plaintiff’s Verified Complaint and the police accident report, a collision occurred within the intersection between a white van, approaching from 103rd Avenue, and a maroon mini-van, approaching from 93rd Street. While both vehicles faced stop signs at the intersection, discovery revealed that the white van did not stop or even slow down as it passed through its stop sign. This included the deposition testimony of the van driver himself, as well as multiple witness accounts and the conclusions reached by the investigating New York City police officers. The Plaintiff’s attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy, LLP commenced a lawsuit against the drivers and owners of the two vehicles, as well as The City of New York. Plaintiff’s claim against The City of New York involved, among other things, the aforementioned stop sign that was at least partially covered by the branches of an adjacent tree, as alleged in Plaintiff’s Complaint.
Plaintiff claimed the reason the white van ran its stop sign was that the sign was not properly visible to its driver. There was much debate among the parties about whether the stop sign should have been observed by the white van driver. In this regard, it was argued by The City of New York that the stop was still visible, despite its partial obstruction by foliage, and there were other markings, such as the word “STOP” on the street that should have alerted the white van driver to its obligation to stop. According to the pleadings and medical records exchanged during discovery, Plaintiff suffered a forceful blow to her head and was rendered unconscious at the scene. She was rushed to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, where she was diagnosed with multiple facial and skull fractures, as well as hemorrhaging and edema in the right frontal, temporal and parietal lobes of her brain.
Plaintiff underwent a brain surgery on the date of the accident, consisting of craniectomy and debridement of fracture fragments. Plaintiff also suffered multiple rib fractures, right clavicle and scapular fractures, multiple transverse process fractures in her cervical and thoracic spine and a right brachial plexus injury. Plaintiff underwent a long course of inpatient rehabilitation, after which she was discharged back to her home and began outpatient cognitive and physical therapy treatments. At the time of settlement, Plaintiff claimed to have suffered permanent brain damage characterized by cognitive limitations, depression and episodic confusion and short-term memory loss. Plaintiff was able to communicate without difficulty, walk without assistance and tend to her own needs with the assistance of her family members.
The Plaintiff’s attorneys made claims for various future medical costs they argued would result from her injuries, including the need for a home health aide. Noted handling Partner Stephen J. Murphy, “We are very pleased that we were able to reach a settlement which ensures that our client will never have a problem paying for any related future medical treatment or accommodation.” Mr. Murphy is a noted trial attorney who was a successful homicide prosecutor for the Kings County District Attorney’s office before joining the firm, where he now handles significant injury cases. Partner David L. Scher also worked on the case for the firm, and further explained why The City of New York was such a big contributor to the settlement: “Through discovery efforts, we learned that The City’s Department of Parks & Recreation had actually been on notice of a problem with obstructed stop signs at the intersection about ten (10) months earlier via a 311 call from a concerned resident in the area. The Parks Department did respond to that call, but we believe the evidence we collected would have proven at trial that they negligently failed to address the tree that caused this accident, despite having a clear opportunity to have done so.”