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Estate of woman dragged under bus alleged negligence

Amount:

$5,000,000

Type:

Settlement

State:

New Jersey

Venue:

Bergen County

Court:

Bergen County Superior Court

Injury Type(s):

other-death

Case Type:

Motor Vehicle – Bus, Crosswalk, Left Turn, Pedestrian; Wrongful Death – Survival Damages

Case Name:

Estate of Leyla H. Kan and Oktay Kan v. Rainbow Transportation Inc., Esperanza Jaramillo, Julia Carozza. Robert Carozza, Plymouth Rock Assurance, American Alternative Ins. Corp. and Network Adjusters Inc.,
No. BER-L-5981-15

Date:

February 8, 2018

Parties

Plaintiff(s):

Oktay Kan , 

Estate of Leyla Kan (Female, 60 Years)

Plaintiff Attorney(s):

Robert B. Linder;
Law Office of Robert B. Linder;
Englewood,
NJ,
for
Oktay Kan, Estate of Leyla Kan

Plaintiff Expert(s):

Steven Schorr; P.E.; Accident Investigation & Reconstruction/ Failure Analysis/Product Liability; Abington,
PA called by:
Robert B. Linder ■ Kristin Kucsma; M.A.; Economics; Livingston,
NJ called by:
Robert B. Linder

Defendant(s):

Julia Carozza, 

Robert Carozza, 

Esperanza Jaramillo, 

Network Adjusters Inc., 

Plymouth Rock Assurance Co., 

Rainbow Transportation Inc., 

American Alternative Insurance Co.

Defense Attorney(s):

None reported;
for
Plymouth Rock Assurance Co. ■ Danielle M. DeGeorgio;
Livingston,
NJ,
for
Julia Carozza, Robert Carozza, Esperanza Jaramillo, Network Adjusters Inc., Rainbow Transportation Inc., American Alternative Insurance Co.

Defendant Expert(s):

John Desch;
Accident Reconstruction;
Riverdale,
NJ called by:
Danielle M. DeGeorgio

Insurer(s):

America Alternative Insurance Co. for Julia Carozza, Robert Carozza, Jaramillo and Rainbow Transportation

Facts:

On Aug. 7, 2014, Leyla Kan, 60, a coffee-shop proprietor, was walking west on Fort Lee Road in Leonia. As she was crossing Broad Avenue in a designated crosswalk, a bus driven by Esperanza Jaramillo began to make a left turn from eastbound Fort Lee Road onto northbound Broad Avenue. The driver’s side rearview mirror hit Kan, knocking her to the ground and underneath the bus. Kan became trapped in the driver’s side rear wheel well of the bus as Jaramillo, who was transporting children to a nearby summer camp, continued driving. Authorities estimated that Kan was dragged about 71 feet under the bus, as onlookers and passersby attempted to get Jaramillo’s attention and stop the bus. Kan’s injuries were fatal. Kan’s estate and her husband, Oktay Kan, sued Jaramillo, alleging that she failed to yield the right of way to a pedestrian as she turned left and was driving carelessly. Also named in the suit were the bus company, Rainbow Transportation Inc., and the company’s owners, Julia and Robert Carozza, alleging vicarious liability. Their insurer, American Alternative Insurance Co., also was named as a defendant. A claim for death benefits and funeral expenses from Plymouth Rock Assurance Co., Kan’s auto insurer, was filed, and a company working on that claim, Network Adjusters Inc., was also named in the suit. Both of those defendants were dismissed after the benefits were paid. An expert in accident reconstruction retained by Kan did not prepare a report, but if the case had gone to trial, the expert would have prepared an animation which, the plaintiff contended, would have shown Jaramillo’s field of vision and that Kan was visible to her prior to impact. The remaining parties did not contest nor concede liability. Jaramillo told police after the crash that she did not realize she had hit Kan. Jaramillo was issued citations for failing to yield to a pedestrian, careless driving and for driving a vehicle with improper equipment because of bald tires on the bus. She later pleaded guilty to failing to yield to a pedestrian and the other citations were dropped. The bus’ condition was not alleged to have contributed to the crash.

Injury:

Kan was pronounced dead at the scene. She is survived by her husband, her son, Atilla, and a grandson, Tristan. An expert economist calculated that the family’s damages, in terms of advice, guidance and counsel lost because of her death, totaled $2.5 million. That figure was determined under precedent set by the New Jersey Supreme Court case Green v. Bittner, in which the court ruled that an expert can make predictions about the value of lost advice and counsel and lost companionship in a wrongful death case. Kan’s husband sought survivorship damages and her estate sought wrongful death damages.

Result:

The parties agreed to settle the case for $5 million soon after the economist’s report was shared through discovery. The amount of $4.5 million was allocated for wrongful death damages and $500,000 for the survivorship claim.

Estate of Leyla Kan: $500,000 Wrongful Death: Survivorship; $4,500,000 Wrongful Death

Editor’s Comment:

This report is based on information provided by plaintiff’s counsel. Additional information was gleaned from an NJ.com report. Defense counsel did not respond to the reporter’s phone calls.