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New Jersey Verdicts

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Restaurant: Patron's 'lap band,' not food poisoning, led to death

Type:

Verdict-Defendant

State:

New Jersey

Venue:

Hudson County

Court:

Hudson County Superior Court

Injury Type(s):

other-food poisoning; other-vomiting/vomition; arterial/vascular-artery; arterial/vascular-internal bleeding

Case Type:

Hotel/Restaurant - Food Poisoning; Wrongful Death - Survival Damages

Case Name:

Domenico Maceri, as administrator of the Estate of Jacqueline Maceri, deceased v. The Chandelier Catering, No. HUD-L -0605-15

Date:

March 2, 2017

Parties

Plaintiff(s):

Domenico Maceri (Male), 

Jacqueline Maceri (Female, 42 Years)

Plaintiff Attorney(s):

Peter L. MacIsaac; Chasan Leyner & Lamparello, PC; Secaucus, NJ, for Domenico Maceri, Jacqueline Maceri

Plaintiff Expert(s):

Gary Rodrick; M.D.; Food Safety; Gainesville, FL called by: Peter L. MacIsaac ■ David Mayer; M.D.; General Surgery; Huntington, NY called by: Peter L. MacIsaac ■ Peter Salgo; M.D.; Pain & Suffering Evaluations; New York, NY called by: Peter L. MacIsaac ■ Kristin Kucsma; M.A.; Personal Injury (Economics); Livingston, NJ called by: Peter L. MacIsaac

Defendant(s):

The Chandelier Catering

Defense Attorney(s):

Daniel Jahnsen; Bolan Jahnsen Dacey; Shrewsbury, NJ, for The Chandelier Catering

Defendant Expert(s):

Eric Ewald; Cardiology; Chelmsford, MA called by: Daniel Jahnsen

Facts:

On April 12, 2013, plaintiff's decedent, Jacqueline Maceri, 42, a bookkeeper, attended a banquet at The Chandelier Restaurant in Bayonne. During the visit, she ate a chicken dish and became violently ill. She died the next day. Domenico Maceri, on behalf of his late wife's estate, sued The Chandelier, alleging that food poisoning caused Maceri's death. The lawsuit specifically claimed that excessive vomiting brought on by her illness caused a gastric artery to rupture, resulting in internal bleeding and eventual death. In testimony, the estate's expert on food poisoning testified that he believed the decedent developed food poisoning from improperly prepared chicken at the restaurant. Given the rapid onset of symptoms, he said, the staphylococcus bacteria was the likely contaminant, and it was caused by poor refrigeration of the food. His opinion was based on a review of medical records and on affidavits from other guests at the banquet, who claimed minor illness afterward. The expert also relied on a Board of Health inspection for the facility which resulted in several complaints for improper food handling and refrigeration. (At trial, the Bayonne health inspector testified that an investigation of the banquet hall was prompted by an anonymous tip, later identified as coming from the law firm representing the estate.) The restaurant denied liability, arguing that the decedent did not develop food poisoning. Counsel maintained that Maceri's internal bleeding was caused by erosion of a laparoscopic gastric band ("lap-band"), a device fitted around the upper part of the stomach to reduce food consumption and control weight. Maceri had a lap band implanted more than two years earlier, and medical records showed that the device had migrated 16 months prior to the incident and that the decedent had complaints of discomfort. The defense's expert cardiologist testified that Maceri's death was due to lap-band erosion and that her failure to follow established follow-up protocols were a significant factor in the lap-band's erosion into the stomach wall and the resulting gastric artery tear. The estate's expert general surgeon contradicted this assertion. He testified that gastric lap-band erosion had no bearing on Maceri's death, since the decedent had been functioning without complaint until the onset of the food-borne illness, and that he was unaware of any instance when a lap band had torn a gastric artery.

Injury:

On the date of incident, Maceri vomited excessively through the night. She was seen at a local hospital the next morning. She died several hours later from internal bleeding. Maceri's expert on pain and suffering testified that the decedent was In extremis upon presentation and had likely been so the prior evening. He concluded she was conscious and in fear of death until finally losing consciousness shortly before being rushed to surgery. Maceri's estate sought wrongful death benefits on behalf of her husband and two young children. Maceri's expert economist projected the decedent's economic damages (including loss of income and loss of services) at roughly $3.1 million. Damages were not actively in dispute. The parties negotiated a confidential high/low stipulation.

Result:

The jury found that the estate was unable to prove that the decedent had suffered from food poisoning that resulted in her death.

Trial Information:

Judge:

Daniel D'Alessandro

Trial Length:

8  days

Trial Deliberations:

10  minutes

Jury Vote:

unanimous

Jury Composition:

unknown

Editor's Comment:

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