A Cape May County jury returned a verdict of $1,580,813.22 in favor of the Plaintiff before the Honorable J. Christopher Gibson, J.S.C. The Plaintiff was represented by Gill & Chamas in Woodbridge, NJ and the verdict was returned after the municipality refused to offer the recommended settlement amount of $150,000. After three days of trial, the jury found by an 8 to 0 vote that the Defendant was negligent, and by the same vote that Defendants’ negligence was a proximate cause of the accident. By a 7 to 1 vote, the jury found that the Plaintiff was not negligent.
The accident occurred in the summer of 2014 while the Plaintiff was vacationing with her family. While riding her bicycle, she was struck by the Defendant who was operating a work vehicle in the course of his employment with Defendant City of Sea Isle City. The Plaintiff had the right of way and the Defendant should have yielded to her and allowed her to pass him before making a turn.
As for damages, the Plaintiff’s left arm was run over and she sustained an open fracture to her left elbow, a rotator cuff tear in her left shoulder, an aggravation of a prior right shoulder rotator cuff tear, and tears of two ligaments in the left wrist.
The jury, by an 8 to 0 vote, found that the Plaintiff had sustained a permanent loss of bodily function that was substantial. By a 7 to 1 vote they awarded $1,500,000 for past and future pain, suffering, disability, and loss of enjoyment of life, and by the same margin awarded $60,000 in future medical expenses.
The case was unsuccessfully mediated before the Honorable James Isman, J.S.C., ret., on February 24, 2017, with the highest offer from the Defendants to settle being $90,000. On April 19, 2017, a settlement conference occurred with Judge Gibson. At that conference, the Plaintiff agreed to accept $150,000 as full and final settlement, contingent upon carrier and municipality approval. However, several weeks later, the carrier and the municipality rejected the recommendation from counsel and the Court, and authorized a settlement offer of $115,000. At no point thereafter, including during trial, did the Defendants increase that offer, or even broach the subject of settlement.