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Motor Vehicle Negligence – Auto/motorcycle collision – Defendant SUV driver allegedly changes lanes when vehicle in front precipitously slows for U-Turn and clips front of motorcycle as plaintiff motorcycle operator attempts to pass slowing defendant on right – Extensive injuries to both plaintiffs.

Rockland County, NY

This motor vehicle negligence action involved a four-vehicle chain collision which took place on the northbound Palisades Interstate Parkway that contained two lanes in each direction. The plaintiffs – two motorcycle operators and passenger of third motorcycle operator who were traveling behind the defendant SUV driver – contended that the defendant failed to make adequate observations, and was traveling too closely behind a non-party driver who was in front of him in the left lane. The plaintiffs maintained that when the driver in front of the defendant slowed precipitously to use a cut off to the left where northbound vehicles can cross the center grassy divider to proceed southbound on the parkway, the defendant suddenly changed from the right to the left lane, striking the corner of the initial plaintiff’s motorcycle after he attempted to avoid the defendant by activating his right turn signal, and then moving from the left to the right lane to pass the defendant on the right.

The defendant denied that he changed lanes, and maintained that the incident occurred in the left lane, and was precipitated by the negligence of the initial motorcycle operator who failed to make adequate observations, and was traveling too closely behind him.

The defendant presented a non-party driver traveling four to five car lengths behind the motorcycles, who indicated that the defendant did not appear to change lanes before the initial collision occurred.

The initial plaintiff was a NYC police officer in his late 40s and the time, and 50 years old at trial. This plaintiff sustained spinal injuries, resulting in acute incomplete paraplegia. His injuries also included multiple open wounds for which he has had numerous hospital admissions, and numerous surgeries. He underwent two colostomies, although the first colostomy was reversed, it is not expected that the second colostomy can be reversed, and that he will wear a colostomy bag for the remainder of his life. This plaintiff has no bladder control and must self-catheterize.

The second plaintiff – a woman in her early 40s – suffered fractures of the left, non-dominant wrist, consisting of a displaced fracture of the left distal radius and a comminuted fracture of the distal neck of the ulna, and underwent an open reduction and internal fixation. She also suffered fractures of the 3rd, 4th and 5th metacarpals of the right hand, a fracture of the 4th metacarpal of the left hand, and a fracture to the clavicle, and opined that she continues to suffer severe pain, despite required open reduction and internal fixation. This plaintiff further suffered multiple lacerations, including a deep 1.5 cm long laceration to the right suborbital ridge, a 2 mm laceration to the right upper eyelid, a 1 cm laceration over the left mandibular mental area, and a .5 mm laceration to the nasal bone area. This plaintiff maintained that the residual moderate scarring is permanent in nature

The third plaintiff, 45 years old at the time and 48 at trial, supported that he suffered a closed head injury with a loss of consciousness, and subdural hematoma which will leave him with some short-term memory and concentration deficits. His other injuries include: Seven left rib fractures; a fractured jaw, fractures that caused a left sided hearing loss, and a right medial meniscus tear that required arthroscopic surgery.

The plaintiff was unable to work at his facilities manager’s job for 18 months.

The defendant had a $________/$________ policy with $1, ________ in excess coverage. Prior to trial, the first plaintiff entered into an agreement in which he would receive $________ if the defendant was found at least 1% negligent, and $________ in the event that the defendant SUV driver prevailed. The damages cases of the other two plaintiffs were stipulated to total $________ – each of which the defendant would pay only his equitable share as found by the jury subject to a $________ cap for each. There was no low in the event of a defendant’s verdict.The jury found that the defendant SUV driver was not negligent.

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