On March 31, 2008, plaintiff  a nurse in her 60s, was injured when her SUV was struck by a sedan as she attempted to make a left turn from Bergen Street onto Bedford Avenue’s southbound lane in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn.

Schulman Blitz filed a lawsuit against the driver of the sedan,  and its owner. Schulman Blitz alleged that the defendant had been negligent in the operation of his friends vehicle.

Schulman Blitz claimed that as she was preparing to execute the left turn onto Bedford, the defendant attempted to cut her off by moving into the Bergen’s bike lane, located on the left side of the one-way westbound, single-lane street. The defendant’s illegal maneuver caused his sedan to strike Plaintiffs SUV on its left side, Mr. Blitz claimed at the trial.

The defendants disputed that Bergen contained a bike lane in the area where the crash occurred, and argued that that portion of the street actually contained two lanes.The defendant contended that he and the plaintiff were traveling side-by-side, with her to his right, when she suddenly attempted to make a left turn onto Bedford from Bergen’s right-hand lane.

In preparing for trial, Mr. Blitz subpoenaed an employee of the New York City Department of Transportation, who was prepared to testify that a bike lane existed on the left side of that section of Bergen Street at the time of the accident. The parties then stipulated as to the bike lane’s existence.

At trial, plaintiff’s counsel successfully requested that the Judge instruct the jury that the relevant section of Bergen Street consisted of a single westbound lane for motor-vehicle traffic.

Injuries/Damages

torn rotator cuff; herniated disc at C2-3; herniated disc at C3-4; decreased range of motion

The plaintiff claimed the accident caused her to suffer rotator cuff tears in both shoulders, for which she was treated conservatively. She also claimed that the collision caused her to suffer herniated discs at the C2-3 and C3-4 levels, necessitating trigger-point injections of pain medication.

The plaintiff was out of work for six months following the accident, and argued that she has permanent pain and loss of range of motion in both arms. Her suit sought damages for pain and suffering.

Plaintiffs treating orthopedic surgeon concluded that her injuries had been caused by the trauma of the March 2008 collision.

An orthopedic surgery expert retained by defense counsel determined that there was no medical proof that the injuries complained of by Parawan had been the result of her vehicle’s being struck by the sedan driven by Robinson.

 

Result

At the beginning of the liability phase of a bifurcated trial, the parties agreed that any finding of liability on the part of the defendant  would result in a settlement payment to the plaintiff  of up to $100,000, subject to reduction based on a jury finding of comparative fault.

After a two-and-a-half-day-long liability phase, the jury found that both the plaintiff and defendant had been negligent with respect to the accident, and apportioned liability at 20% and 80%, respectively.

Pending the outcome of a post-trial motion by defense counsel to set aside the liability verdict, the plaintiff will receive $80,000 from the $300,000 policy covering the sedan driven by the defendant