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Essex County, NJ

In this action, the plaintiff, in his mid 50s, a hospital Environmental Services Department employee whose duties were primarily in the maintenance field, contended that the defendant employee of the hospital’s linen service negligently attempted to wheel two unwieldy, ________ pound bins down a narrow hallway, misjudging the space available and knocking into the plaintiff, pinning him against the hospital wall. The plaintiff contended that as a result, he suffered a severe aggravation of a lumbar herniation that was initially sustained in a ________ motor vehicle accident. The defendant denied that the incident was the cause of the claimed injuries and contended that they stemmed from the prior herniation and motor vehicle accident that occurred some weeks earlier.

The plaintiff maintained that the incident caused severely heightened pain and limitations, and that after conservative care and epidural injections proved to be inadequate, he required the fusion of the L4-S1 vertebrae. The plaintiff pointed out that despite approximately four prior flare-ups that caused symptoms that ranged from mild to severe, he had been able to continue working and live a reasonably active lifestyle. The plaintiff contended that he now has continuing severe pain and limitations, can no longer work that because of partial urinary incontinence, he has difficulties controlling voiding and must wear an adult diaper if he is in a car or otherwise unable to reach a bathroom in a short period after urinary urges begin.

The plaintiff related that as he was standing in the narrow hallway, the defendant began wheeling two of the carts at the same time. The plaintiff maintained that there was insufficient room and that as the defendant passed by, he was struck by one of the bins and pinned against the wall with force. The plaintiff maintained that the defendant clearly should not have attempted to move both bins at once.

The defendant denied that he was negligent. The plaintiff pointed to the defendant’s deposition in which he indicated that his view was obstructed and that after wheeling the carts approximately six feet, he stopped, looked around the bins and saw the plaintiff, believing that he had ample room to maneuver the carts around him. The plaintiff contended that because the defendant was incorrect, he was struck. The plaintiff also pointed out that in his deposition, the defendant testified that although he had been instructed to only move one bin at a time, he believed that he had to take two bins at once in order to complete his duties on time.

The evidence disclosed that the plaintiff suffered a lumbar herniation in ________. The plaintiff contended that although he had four flare-ups that ranged in severity from severe to mild, the episodes resolved with conservative care and no loss of time from work. The plaintiff also related that he was involved in a motor vehicle accident approximately six weeks earlier that caused increased back pain. The plaintiff contended that he underwent a course of physical therapy shortly thereafter, missed no time from work, and maintained the increased pain had substantially resolved as of the time the subject incident occurred.

The plaintiff contended that that he developed severely heightened and continuing pain and limitations after being pinned against the wall. The plaintiff maintained that the symptoms continued despite conservative care and epidural injections and that he then underwent fusion surgery. The plaintiff contended that the severe pain and limitations continued despite the surgery and that he suffered nerve damage that caused intermittent urinary incontinence. The plaintiff contended that he can no longer work and that he must lead a much more sedentary lifestyle.

The plaintiff is the owner of a triplex building, rents out two of the units, and contended that although he formerly did most of his own maintenance, he can no longer do so. The plaintiff related that must wear a smaller back brace on a daily basis and wears a much larger brace when he travels by car more than a short distance. The plaintiff also contended that the urinary difficulties are permanent in nature.

The plaintiff had been hired by this hospital some months after the motor vehicle accident and was still undergoing training. The plaintiff presented his foreman, who had been employed by the hospital for 12 years. The witness related that he had been with the plaintiff almost every day, that he was a good worker, and that the foreman was not even aware of the recent motor vehicle accident.

The case settled during trial for $________, including $________ for lost wages and $________ for pain and suffering.

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