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ARTICLE ID 34693

- TORT CLAIMS ACTION - FAILURE TO REPAIR POTHOLE - ALLEGED BRAIN STEM INJURY - LABYRINTHIAN DAMAGE - TOTAL DISABILITY FROM EMPLOYMENT.

Philadelphia County

The plaintiff, in his early 30’s at the time, alleged that a dangerous pothole on a state highway caused him to strike his head sustaining a brain stem injury which rendered him totally disabled from future employment. The defendant Commonwealth denied that the pothole existed and, alternately, asserted that it had no notice of the pothole and that the plaintiff’s complaints were a result of a pre-existing personality disorder.

The plaintiff testified that he was driving a cement mixer on a highway maintained by the defendant Commonwealth when his vehicle hit a pothole, causing him to hit his head inside the cab of the truck. The plaintiff said that he pulled off the road to recover then went back to work. Following the accident, the plaintiff said that he developed lightheadedness, dizziness, an inability to concentrate and severe depression. The plaintiff’s neurologist diagnosed the plaintiff as suffering from a brain stem injury related to the blow to the head sustained when the plaintiff’s truck hit the pothole. The plaintiff’s psychiatrist testified that the plaintiff was totally disabled from employment due to labyrinthian and brain stem damage sustained in the incident. The plaintiff’s vocational expert testified that the plaintiff was no longer able to drive a truck and was not suited for other employment. The plaintiff’s future loss earnings were estimated at $________. The defendant Commonwealth’s expert psychiatrist testified that the plaintiff was not disabled and that his problems were symptoms of a pre-existing personality disorder and were psychiatric in nature. The defendant pointed to the plaintiff’s army records and school records which predated the accident to show that the plaintiff had a history of psychiatrically-oriented complaints. The defendant also asserted that it had no prior notice of the pothole in question. The jury found for the defendant. The defendant had offered $________ to settle prior to trial. Plaintiff’s post-trial motions are pending. Collins, et al. vs. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Case no. 81-05-________; Judge Berel Caesar. Attorney for plaintiff: Edward Rostick of Williams & Scheetz in Richboro, Pa.; Attorney for defendant: John Calabro of the Attorney General’s Office in Philadelphia. Plaintiff’s neurologist: Gary Horowitz from Philadelphia. Plaintiff’s vocational expert: Donald Jennings from Feasterville. Plaintiff’s psychiatrist: Martin Goldstein from Philadelphia. Defendant’s expert psychiatrist: Harold Byron of Norristown. Defendant’s vocational expert: Philip Spargel from Jenkintown. Defendant’s accident reconstruction expert: Donald Thomas from Philadelphia.

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