Associate Jesse D. Lubin attains favorable verdict in Bergen County Law Division, Iavarone v. Iavarone BER-L-7652-15

This case was tried before Judge Gregg Padovano in Bergen County from September 25, 2017 to verdict on September 26, 2017. The lawsuit resulted from an automobile accident which occurred on December 29, 2013 on East Allendale Road in Saddle River, New Jersey. Defendant driver, who was the plaintiff passenger’s husband, was traveling in the right lane on East Allendale Road when he attempted to make a left hand turn on Hawthorne Terrace and collided with a non-party vehicle. The parties stipulated to 100% liability as against the defendant. The issue was whether Plaintiff vaulted the Verbal Threshold.

Plaintiff, 70 years old at the time, initially made no complaints of pain to the responding police officer. Upon arrival of the ambulance, she made complaints of rib and chest pain and was transported to the hospital. At the hospital she made no complaints of neck or back pain and underwent X-rays of her ribs and chest, which were unremarkable. Two days later she presented to a different hospital emergency room and again only had complaints of rib and chest pain. Her neck and back were noted to be supple, without tenderness and having full range of motion. Plaintiff first presented to an orthopedist almost 2 ½ weeks post-accident, now with complaints of neck and back pain. However, she also had a cough and fever so the orthopedist sent her back to the Emergency Room, where she was checked for pneumonia and released. Once again she did not undergo any diagnostic images to her neck or back. She treated with physical therapy and four months post-accident underwent MRIs which noted a cervical herniation, multiple cervical disc budges, and multiple lumbar disc bulges. A later EMG confirmed radiculopathy. Plaintiff also treated with a pain management physician, who performed cervical and lumbar epidurals.

In this expedited trial no medical witnesses testified live, extensive portions of the plaintiff’s medical records were read to the jury. Both sides submitted Experts Reports for the jury’s review. The defense contended that because plaintiff did not make complaints of neck or back pain for almost 2 ½ weeks, that her neck and back injuries were not causally related to the accident. By a 6-0 count, the jury unanimously found that plaintiff failed to sustain her burden of proving that she sustained a permanent injury in the accident as required by New Jersey verbal threshold law and rendered the verdict in the defendant’s favor.