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New Jersey Verdicts

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Sisters claimed they suffered serious harm in boat accident

Amount:

$9,500,000

Type:

Verdict-Plaintiff

State:

New Jersey

Venue:

Bergen County

Court:

Bergen County Superior Court

Injury Type(s):

hip-fracture, acetabulum; leg; head-concussion; knee; brain-coma; chest-fracture, rib; other-buttocks; other-laceration; other-pnumothorax; other-physical therapy; other-spleen, laceration; other-arthritis, traumatic; other-tendinitis/tendinosis; other-scar and/or disfigurement; dental-tooth loss; pelvis-fracture, pelvis; abdomen; epidermis-contusion; foot/heel-foot; foot/heel-foot drop (drop foot); neurological-nerve damage/neuropathy (nerve damage, peroneal nerve); sensory/speech-anosmia; surgeries/treatment-splenectomy; surgeries/treatment-open reduction; surgeries/treatment-internal fixation; mental/psychological-psychiatric; mental/psychological-post-traumatic stress disorder; pulmonary/respiratory-respiratory; pulmonary/respiratory-pneumothorax; pulmonary/respiratory-collapsed lung

Case Type:

Admiralty/Maritime - Boating Accidents

Case Name:

Jamie Franzino and Gina Franzino v. Edward McCarthy, McCarthy's Marine Sales, David Martinez and John Hessles, No. BER-L-9503-14

Date:

July 29, 2016

Parties

Plaintiff(s):

Gina Franzino (Female, 23 Years), 

Jamie Franzino (Female, 19 Years)

Plaintiff Attorney(s):

Samuel L. Davis; Davis Saperstein & Salomon, P.C.; Teaneck, NJ, for Gina Franzino ■ Christopher T. Karounos; Karounos & Associates LLC; Elmwood Park, NJ, for Gina Franzino, Jamie Franzino

Plaintiff Expert(s):

Gregg Klein; M.D.; Orthopedics; called by: Samuel L. Davis ■ Kevin Bell; M.D.; Internal Medicine; Summit, NJ called by: Samuel L. Davis ■ Themistocles Protopsaltis; M.D.; Orthopedic Surgery; New York, NY called by: Samuel L. Davis, Christopher T. Karounos

Defendant(s):

John Hessles, 

David Martinez, 

Edward McCarthy, 

McCarthy's Marine Sales

Defense Attorney(s):

Joseph A. Gallo; McGivney & Kluger P.C.; Florham Park, NJ, for John Hessles, Edward McCarthy, McCarthy's Marine Sales

Defendant Expert(s):

Richard Schenk; Orthopedic Surgery; Whippany, NJ called by: Joseph A. Gallo

Insurer(s):

Swiss Re for Edward McCarthy and McCarthy's Marine Sales

Facts:

On May 22, 2009, plaintiff Jamie Franzino, 19, and her sister, plaintiff Gina Franzino, 23, were among the passengers aboard a 15-foot powerboat in the Manasquan Inlet. The sisters were college students who worked part-time at an organic food store. While the Franzinos were on the water, a 31-foot boat collided with them in a bow-to-bow impact. Three passengers were thrown from the boat but the Franzinos were found by rescue personnel trapped on the boat, crushed between the console and hull. The sisters claimed multiple serious injuries and psychological trauma. The Franzinos sued Edward McCarthy and his boat dealership, McCarthy's Marine Sales, alleging that he had been negligent in the operation of a vessel. The matter was consolidated with separate suits filed against McCarthy and McCarthy's Marine Sales by the other survivors of the accident and by the estate of an individual who was in the collision. In January 2016, the consolidated suit was tried on liability only. The operators of the Franzinos' boat, David Martinez and John Hessles, were also named as defendants. At the conclusion of the liability trial, McCarthy and Martinez were found liable. Judge Charles Powers held that maritime joint and several liability applied to the case, making the percentage of liability apportioned to each defendant irrelevant. The suit was subsequently deconsolidated into separate damages trials, with McCarthy as the only remaining defendant. Hessles was found not liable and Martinez was discontinued from the damages portion of trial after filing for bankruptcy.

Injury:

The Franzinos were airlifted to Jersey Shore Medical Center after their removal from the ship. Jamie Franzino entered a two-day coma and was hospitalized for 10 days before beginning outpatient rehab. She was diagnosed with a collapsed right lung (pneumothorax), bilateral lung contusions, three fractures of her right pelvis, peroneal nerve damage to her left foot, two shattered teeth, tendinopathy of the right shoulder, and anosmia (loss of the sense of smell). She also claimed a scalp scar and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Jamie Franzino required intubation for her collapsed lung. Following her release, she had physical therapy for her pelvis injury and treatment for respiratory complications. She also saw a therapist for her PTSD. Jamie Franzino lost her sense of taste and smell due to her anosmia. Her peroneal nerve injury resulted in drop foot with an altered gait, causing her to occasionally trip while walking. She continues to suffer from respiratory problems. She did not return to school but continues to work at an organic food store, with difficulty. Gina Franzino entered a three-day coma and was hospitalized for two weeks before being released for outpatient care. She was diagnosed with a shattered pelvis, a fracture of the acetabelum of her right hip, bilateral lung contusions, a fractured rib, a concussion, multiple severe spleen lacerations, and lacerations to her left knee and leg. She also claimed PTSD and scarring down her abdomen, left knee, and buttocks. Gina Franzino required surgery with open reduction and internal fixation to repair her shattered pelvis. She received a prophylactic high dose radiation to her pelvis following surgery to prevent heterotopic ossification. She required a splenectomy and sutures to her left knee and leg. She had about one year of physical therapy and briefly treated with a therapist for her PTSD. Gina Franzino complains of chronic pain and limited mobility as a result of her pelvis injury. She believes her injury and exposure to radiation has negatively affected her ability to have children. She also believes her spleen removal has left her with a significantly weaker immune system. She stated she will require a right hip replacement in the future. The Franzinos sought unspecified damages for pain and suffering. Gina Franzino sought $400,000 in future medical expenses related to a hip replacement procedure. The Franzinos' expert orthopedist provided a report which confirmed that the sisters sustained permanent physical injuries from the collision. Their expert internist confirmed Jamie Franzino's anosmia and Gina Franzino's weakened immune system and breathing difficulties, and both sisters' PTSD. Gina Franzino's treating orthopedic surgeon confirmed a causal relationship between her injuries and the collision. He found that she will likely require bilateral hip replacements and hip replacement revision surgery. Counsel for McCarthy disputed damages, arguing that the Franzinos' injuries were exaggerated and that both sisters had largely recovered from their injuries by the time of trial. The defense's expert orthopedist testified that Jamie Franzino did not exhibit peroneal nerve damage. He maintained that both sisters' pelvis injuries had healed without issue. He opined during de benne esse deposition testimony that only one side of Franzino's pelvic surgery had been necessary.

Result:

The jury awarded Jamie Franzino $3.9 million for pain and suffering. It awarded Gina Franzino $5.1 million for pain and suffering and $500,000 for future medical expenses.

Gina Franzino: $500,000 Personal Injury: Future Medical Cost; $5,100,000 Personal Injury: Past Pain And Suffering; Jamie Franzino: $3,900,000 Personal Injury: Past Pain And Suffering

Trial Information:

Judge:

Charles Powers Jr.

Demand:

unknown

Offer:

$475,000 (combined)

Trial Length:

3  weeks

Trial Deliberations:

5  hours

Jury Vote:

unanimous

Jury Composition:

five women/ three men

Editor's Comment:

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