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ARTICLE ID 195807

$________ – DEFENDANT STATE AND CONTRACTORS FAIL TO ASCERTAIN AND/OR REPLACE MISSING LENS CAP IN STREET LIGHT SYSTEM – SHORT CIRCUIT ALLEGEDLY CAUSED A STREET LIGHT TO BE OUT, RESULTING IN THE AREA BEING EXTREMELY DARK – 18-YEAR-OLD PLAINTIFF PEDESTRIAN STRUCK BY DRIVER AFTER CROSSING HALF OF CROSSWALK – CLOSED HEAD TRAUMA.

Union County, NJ

This action was brought by a then 18-year-old plaintiff pedestrian who was struck after crossing approximately one-half of the crosswalk that ran perpendicularly to the on-ramp to Rt. 78 E in Union. The plaintiff contended that when the state and contractors were engaged in a widening project of the highway approximately nine months earlier, they failed to replace a missing lens cap in the system controlling the street lights. The plaintiff maintained that this failure led to a short circuit, which caused the street light to be out, resulting in the area being extremely dark and the plaintiff being unable to avoid the vehicle. The plaintiff contended that she suffered a closed head trauma that left moderate cognitive deficits and some left sided weakness. The plaintiff also maintained that she suffered a fractured femur that required an external fixation device, and would contribute to some difficulties ambulating. The plaintiff also suffered laceration to the femoral artery and a lumbar compression fracture. The recoveries against the state and contractors are additional to the prior settlement with the driver for the limited policy. The plaintiff contended that because the overhead street lamp was not on, the area was extremely dark. The defendants denied that the plaintiff’s claims should be accepted, and contended that the bulb in the street light may well have simply burned out. The defendants supported that the plaintiff did not establish notice of a dangerous condition. The defendants also contended that it had budgetary immunity for the replacement of street lamp light bulbs, contending that with numerous competing needs, the state was required to allocate its limited resources with great care.

The plaintiff pointed out that when the widening project was being done approximately nine months earlier, the records reflected that signs of intermittent short circuits were noted. The plaintiff’s expert contended that it was likely that the lens cap was missing for a significant period, prior to the widening work, accounting for the history of intermittent short circuits. The plaintiff’s engineer maintained that a missing lens cap would permit the introduction of water during raining conditions, and would cause the short circuits that ultimately led to the failure of the street light during the night in question.

The plaintiff’s expert maintained that a proper investigation at that time would have revealed that the lens cap needed replacement and would have avoided the subsequent short circuits that led to the street light being out at the time of the subject incident. The plaintiff supported that she suffered a closed head injury that caused moderate cognitive deficits that involve memory and concentration, and are permanent in nature. The plaintiff maintained that the deficits were confirmed by a battery of neuropsychological testing.

The plaintiff further maintained that the closed head injury manifested in some left sided weakness that is permanent. The plaintiff also suffered a fractured femur that required an external fixation device. The plaintiff contended that she will suffer permanent pain, and that this injury will add to the altered gait occasioned by the left sided weakness associated with the closed head trauma. The altered gait is moderate in nature. The plaintiff maintained that the compression fracture will cause permanent pain, but that the laceration to the femoral artery essentially resolved.The case settled prior to trial for $________, including $________ from the state, $________ from the contractor that actually did work on the control system that contained the allegedly missing lens cap, and $________ from another contractor participating in the road widening project.

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