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Delaware County

The plaintiff was a 27-year-old female passenger in the rear of a vehicle driven by the defendant Mahamadou Sima on January 28, ________. The Sima vehicle collided with another car driven by the defendant Maria Papatsiaras at the intersection of Church Lane and Long Lane in East Lansdowne. The plaintiff claimed the intersection was dangerous and did not have adequate traffic control devices. In addition to the drivers of the vehicles involved, PennDOT and the Borough of East Lansdowne were also named as defendants in the case. PennDOT owns Church Lane and Long Lane is owned by East Lansdowne. The defendant East Lansdowne argued it had requested that PennDOT improve traffic safety at the intersection for years prior to the plaintiff’s accident.

The defendants also maintained the accident resulted from negligence on the part of the codefendant drivers. The defendant driver Papatsiaras settled the plaintiff’s claims prior to trial. The manufacturer of the host vehicle, Nissan Motor Corporation, was also named as a defendant in the case based on allegations that the Sentra, in which the plaintiff was riding, was defective in that it had rear lap seatbelts only with no shoulder harnesses. Nissan settled prior to trial for an undisclosed sum.

The plaintiff was planning her wedding for that summer and at 2:00 P.M. on the day of the accident was traveling north on Church Lane en route to the house of her maid of honor in Upper Darby. They had been shopping for a wedding veil that day. It was raining at the time the host vehicle attempted to make a left turn into Long Lane from Church Lane. The codefendant, Papatsiaras, was southbound on Church and struck the side of the host vehicle as it made a left turn.

At the time of the accident, the intersection had a stop sign for traffic on Church Lane turning left onto Long Lane. The defendant East Lansdowne had also painted a "stop bar" on the street. However, at the time of the accident, the stop bar was no longer visible. Since the borough had painted the stop bar, despite the fact that Church Lane is a state highway, the plaintiff argued it had a duty to maintain it.

The plaintiff contended the intersection had been well known for years before the date of the subject accident as a location where a large quantity of accidents occurred, yet the defendants failed to take appropriate corrective action. Evidence showed a ________ consulting engineer report recommended that the defendant borough obtain county authorization for a traffic study at the location due to hazardous conditions there.

The plaintiff claimed the borough failed to follow up on the recommendation.

In ________ the defendant PennDOT, requested that the defendant borough notify it on a periodic basis of the effectiveness of the mandatory stopping movement for left-turning vehicles from Church Lane to Long Lane. The plaintiff claimed that the borough never responded to that request.

In April, ________, the defendant borough made a formal request to PennDOT for a traffic study at the intersection. In April of ________, PennDOT conducted a study for a multi-way STOP sign at the intersection, but concluded that a multi-way STOP sign was not appropriate, even though it had been requested by the borough police chief in March ________ due to numerous accidents at the location.

In November ________, the defendant borough sent another request to PennDOT, now asking for a study to be performed with respect to the installation and operation of traffic signals at the subject intersection. The plaintiff’s accident occurred on January 28, ________, before the traffic signals were installed.

The plaintiff sustained a spinal cord injury in the accident resulting in permanent quadriplegia. After extensive rehabilitation she has regained movement in her head, neck and arms and can stand with assistance.

The plaintiff’s medical experts testified the plaintiff will require continued nursing care for the remainder of her life and has a normal life expectancy.

At the time of the accident, the plaintiff was working as a hostess at a hotel. She testified she had planned to return to college. At trial, she was attending community college part-time, majoring in psychology. The plaintiff’s economist estimated the plaintiff’s total economic damages to be, on average, approximately $14 million.

The defendant host driver did not appear at trial. The plaintiff’s maid of honor, who was a front seat passenger, testified the host vehicle stopped prior to making a left turn and looked for oncoming traffic, but the view around the curve was obstructed.

The defendant PennDOT maintained there was adequate line of sight at the location and the intersection was not dangerous. The defendants argued that, if the defendant host driver (Sima) could not see, he had a responsibility to position his vehicle so that he could see before pulling into the intersection.

After a seven-day trial the jury found PennDOT 50% negligent; the Borough of East Lansdowne 3% negligent; the defendant host driver 32% negligent and the driver of the other vehicle (Papatsiaras) 15% negligent. The plaintiff was awarded $________ in damages, which was reduced to a net verdict of $________ per Pennsylvania’s governmental immunity statutes. The defendant PennDOT’s damages are capped at $________ and the borough’s at $________. Posttrial motions are pending.

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