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Verdicts: Lisa Cooper Turner v. Sol Folger

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Lisa Cooper Turner and Elizabeth Cooper, indiv., and as Adm. of the Est. of Ralph Cooper v. Sol Folger v. Lisa Cooper Turner (Third-party Deft.) 8827/92 7-day trial Verdict 3/8/94 Judge Dominick J. Viscardi, New York Supreme

VERDICT: $500,000 for Elizabeth Cooper. Breakdown: $350,000 for past pain and suffering; $150,000 for future pain and suffering.
$223,100 for Lisa Cooper Turner. Breakdown: $100,000 for past pain and suffering; $40,000 for future pain and suffering; $70,000 for future lost earnings; $13,100 for future medical expenses.
$0 for Estate of Ralph Cooper for loss of services (6/0). Post-trial motions were denied. Jury: 3 male, 3 female. The action against Lisa Cooper Turner as Third-party Deft. was dismissed after trial.

Pltf. Attorney: Thomas J. Moverman of Harry H. Lipsig & Partners, Manhattan, for Cooper
Glenn D. Miller of Stickel & Belovin, Manhattan, for Cooper Turner
Deft. Attorney: Lawrence Lewis of James P. McCarthy, Manhattan, for Fink, Weinberger, White Plains, for Folger Alexander C. Aviles of Jackson & Consumano, Manhattan, for Third-party Deft.

Facts: The accident occurred at approximately 5 PM on 12/23/91. Pltf. Elizabeth Cooper, a 69-year-old part-time clerical worker, was a passenger in an automobile owned by decedent and operated by her daughter, Pltf. Third-party Deft. Lisa Cooper Turner, a 29-year-old part-time medical assistant, which was involved in an automobile accident on Riverside Dr. and 125th St. Deft. Folger was operating a Dodge Caravan north on Riverside Dr. when, he claimed, another vehicle lightly hit his right passenger door. He contended that this caused him to lose control of his vehicle and cross into oncoming traffic where it collided with Pltf.’s vehicle. He testified that he tried to avoid the accident, but was faced with an emergency situation. Pltf. claimed that she stopped her vehicle on the opposite side of the road because she saw Deft. lose control of his van. She did not, however, see his vehicle struck by any other cars on the road prior to the accident, and she argued that there was no damage to the passenger side of the Deft.’s vehicle. Pltf. also noted that Deft. did not mention the phantom car to the responding officer. The officer testified that Deft. told him that he was cut off by another car, but there was no contract between the vehicles.

Injuries: Elizabeth (at 69 at the time of the accident; $500,000 verdict) comminuted fracture of the right (dominant) wrist; 1-inch-long raised scar on forehead; torn medial meniscus requiring arthroscopy. Pltf.’s expert testified that she has developed intra articular arthritis. Deft.’s expert testified that the arthritis was not the result of the accident, but the result of degenerative changes. Lisa (age 29 at the time of the accident; $223,100 verdict) bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome; internal derangement of the right knee. Pltf. testified that the vehicle was equipped with an air bag which deployed while she was still clutching the steering wheel. She contended that the shock of the impact traveled through the steering column and caused trauma to her wrists. Deft. disputed the findings of bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome, and denied the existence of internal derangement in the knee. Pltf. presented a positive EMG to support the finding of carpal tunnel syndrome. Pltf.’s orthopedist testified that Pltf. is a candidate for a carpal tunnel release. He also testified that she will probably develop arthritis in the knee. Demonstrative evidence: hospital records; photographs of Pltf.’s injuries; photographs of the accident scene; X-rays. Offer: $115,000; demand: $200,000. Jury deliberation: 4 hours. Carrier: Allstate. Pltf. Experts: Dr. Jonathan Dorn, orth. surg., Manhattan; Dr. Enrique Ergas, orth. surg., Manhattan. Deft Experts: Dr. Bruce Grynbaum, rehabilitative medicine, Rusk Institute, Manhattan; Dr. Hossein Firooznia, radiologist, Manhattan.

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