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Motorcyclist blamed driver for broadside and leg amputation

Amount:

$4,300,000

Type:

Settlement

State:

New Jersey

Venue:

Somerset County

Court:

Somerset County Superior Court

Injury Type(s):

leg-fracture (fracture, tibia), leg (fracture, tibia); leg-fracture (fracture, fibula), leg (fracture, fibula); other-infection; other-phantom pain; other-acromioplasty; other-osteomyelitis; other-decreased range of motion; shoulder-rotator cuff (supraspinatus muscle/tendon, tear), injury (tear)(supraspinatus muscle/tendon, tear); amputation-leg (leg (below the knee)); surgeries/treatment-skin graft; surgeries/treatment-open reduction; surgeries/treatment-external fixation; surgeries/treatment-internal fixation; mental/psychological-anxiety; mental/psychological-depression

Case Type:

Motor Vehicle - Broadside, Stop Sign, Motorcycle, Intersection, Multiple Vehicle

Case Name:

Michael Plaszczymaka and Lilla Plaszczymaka v. Lei Fu, No. SOM-L-1382-15

Date:

April 10, 2017

Parties

Plaintiff(s):

Lilla Plaszczymaka (Female), 

Michael Plaszczymaka (Male, 55 Years)

Plaintiff Attorney(s):

Hugh M. Turk; Sullivan, Papain, Block, McGrath & Cannavo, P.C.; Hackensack, NJ, for Lilla Plaszczymaka, Michael Plaszczymaka

Plaintiff Expert(s):

S. Rozbruch; M.D.; Orthopedic Surgery; New York, NY called by: Hugh M. Turk ■ Daniel Shaw; M.D.; Psychiatry; Newton, MA called by: Hugh M. Turk ■ Edmond Provder; C.R.C.; Vocational Rehabilitation; Lodi, NJ called by: Hugh M. Turk ■ Kristin Kucsma; M.A.; Personal Injury (Economics); Livingston, NJ called by: Hugh M. Turk ■ Michael Moschella; CPO; Prosthetics; East Orange, NJ called by: Hugh M. Turk ■ Patricio Grob; D.O.; Orthopedic Surgery; Whippany, NJ called by: Hugh M. Turk

Defendant(s):

Lei Fu

Defense Attorney(s):

Brian G. Steller; Connell Foley, LLP; Roseland, NJ, for Lei Fu

Insurer(s):

New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Co. Chubb Group of Insurance Cos.

Facts:

On Sept. 20, 2015, plaintiff Michael Plaszczymaka, 55, a heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) foreman, was riding a motorcycle north on Minebrook Road in Bernardsville. At the same time, a vehicle driven by Lei Fu was waiting at a stop sign, facing west on Whiteknack Road. As Plaszczymaka entered the intersection with Whiteknack Road, Fu pulled forward in an attempt to make a left turn and struck the right side of Plaszczymaka's motorcycle. Plaszczymaka claimed injuries to his right leg and right shoulder and psychological trauma. Plaszczymaka sued Fu, alleging he was negligent in the operation of a vehicle. Specifically, he alleged that Fu failed to yield to oncoming traffic before attempting a left turn. Fu denied liability, arguing that Plaszczymaka was speeding, which caused the collision.

Injury:

Plaszczymaka was taken by ambulance to Morristown Medical Center, where he was hospitalized for approximately one month. He was subsequently transferred to an in-patient rehabilitation facility for 10 days. Plaszczymaka was diagnosed with displaced fractures of the tibia and fibula of his right leg. While he was hospitalized, his treating physicians attempted to stabilize his lower leg with an external fixator. This was ineffective, and Plaszczymaka required a below-the-knee amputation with subsequent open reduction and internal fixation surgery of the remaining bones. He required further treatment, including numerous additional surgeries, skin grafts, and treatment of infection, such as osteomyelitis (bone infection). Plaszczymaka was further diagnosed with a full-thickness tear of the supraspinatus tendon of the rotator cuff of his right (dominant) shoulder. He required an acromioplasty and resection of the distal clavicle. Due to the collision and his injuries, Plaszczymaka claimed, he developed depression and anxiety which affect his ability to sleep. Plaszczymaka complains of phantom leg pain. He also complains of discomfort, diminished range of motion, weakness, and pain in his right shoulder. He is unable to perform many activities of daily living, such as exercising or home-maintenance, and is unable to enjoy leisure activities, such as fishing or riding a motorcycle. Plaszczymaka lost his position as a HVAC foreman and has not worked since the incident. Plaszczymaka's medical expenses, which were in excess of $1 million, were paid by his union health plan. His wife, Lilla Plaszczymaka, made a claim for loss of consortium.

Result:

The parties agreed to a $4.3 million pre-trial settlement. The settlement was paid from Fu's $500,000 primary policy with New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Co. and a $5 million excess policy with Federal Insurance Co.

Editor's Comment:

This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiffs' and defense counsel.