New Jersey Verdicts
Find out about the most important recent New Jersey cases, selected by VerdictSearch editors. Coverage includes Essex, Hudson and Middlesex counties.
Camden County Superior Court
neck-herniated disc(herniated disc at C3-4); cervical(herniated disc at C3-4)
neck-herniated disc(herniated disc at C4-5); cervical(herniated disc at C4-5)
neck-herniated disc(herniated disc at C5-6); cervical(herniated disc at C5-6)
other-physical therapy neurological-radiculopathy neurological-radicular pain / radiculitis
Motor Vehicle – Rear-ender, Verbal Threshold
Phoi Tran Troutman v. Jeffrey Levin, Joseph Levin, Edward Nice and Brandi Nice,
June 4, 2013
Phoi Tran Troutman (Female, 50 )
Harry J. Kane Jr.;
Saffren & Weinberg;
Phoi Tran Troutman
Joseph Levin, Jeffrey Levin ■ Rodd D. DeWitt;
Law Offices of Robert Raskas;
Brandi Nice, Edward Nice
GEICO for the Nices
On Jan. 12, 2008, plaintiff Phoi Tran Troutman, a nail salon proprietor in her 50s, was traveling along the westbound section of Route 38 in Cherry Hill when her car was struck from behind by a vehicle being driven by Edward Nice (with the permissive use of Brandi Nice.) Troutman sued the Nices for negligence. (Because there was a suggestion that another vehicle was either involved in or had caused the accident, the complaint, which was filed close to the expiration of the statute of limitations, named two additional defendants, Jeffrey Levin and Joseph Levin. Issue was never joined as to the Levins, but no default was obtained against them. When the case got close to trial-readiness, these two defendants, who court records indicate had yet to file and answer and were not represented, were voluntarily dismissed from the case.) The Nices stipulated liability, and the case proceeded to trial as to damages-related issues only, with the defense contending that Troutman‘s complained-of injuries did not meet the requirements of the limitation-on-lawsuit tort threshold. A pretrial court-mandated arbitration proceeding resulted in an award to Troutman in the amount of $35,000, from which the defense appealed and obtained a trial de novo. Prior to trial the parties agreed to cap any damages as determined by the jury at the relevant insurance policy’s limit of $50,000; it was further agreed that the damages issues would be presented pursuant to the expedited procedure allowing for the introduction of medical reports and medical records without the necessity of live medical witness testimony.
Troutman reportedly was able to drive away from the accident scene in her own vehicle, and did not seek any medical attention until 10 days later, when she presented to an orthopedic specialist with complaints of back and neck pain. She was treated conservatively for these symptoms with several office visits, until a cervical MRI was ordered that revealed disc herniations at C3 through C6. An EMG also confirmed left sided cervical radiculopathy consistent with Troutman‘s complaints of persistent radiating pain to her left arm. Epidural injections were recommended to manage Troutman‘s pain symptoms, but she declined that form of treatment. She continued to receive heat therapies, electrical stimulation on the occasion of her orthopedic office visits, and a regimen of prescribed exercise and physical therapy. Troutman ceased treatment almost six months to the day following the accident. The defense maintained that Troutman had suffered no permanent injury as a result of the accident in question, and that such complaints as she had were due to the onset of a degenerative spinal condition unrelated to the motor vehicle accident at issue.
The jury determined that Troutman had suffered permanent injury as a result of the motor vehicle accident underlying the litigation, and that she should receive $125,000 in damages. The damages award was molded by the court to reflect the $50,000 cap on damages to which the parties had previously stipulated.
Stephen M. Holden
This report is based on court records and on information that was provided by plaintiff’s counsel. Defense counsel for the Nices declined to contribute. The dismissed defendants were not asked to contribute.