Defense Verdict in Bus Case
Following a five-day jury trial and four hours of deliberation, Matthew Vitucci obtained a favorable verdict for our client, Megabus, in the matter of Ebrahem v. Coach Leasing, Inc., tried in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York before Judge Shira A. Scheindlin. The verdict came back apportioning liability 50/50 and awarding no pain-and-suffering damages and medical expenses totaling only $11,700. Defendants’ 50% apportioned share of damages, resulting in a net award of only $5,850. Plaintiff’s last settlement demand was $3.2 million, and in closing argument, plaintiff requested a verdict amounting to $2.4 million.
The case arose from an accident that occurred at the Manhattan entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel in which the defendants’ bus and plaintiff’s livery taxi had a minor side-swipe collision where each party alleged the other caused the impact. Plaintiff alleged that this accident caused injury to his left knee requiring a partial menisectomy and lumbar spine injury necessitating a six-level lumbar fusion.
Plaintiff offered the expert testimony of the performing spinal surgeon, Dr. Sebastian Lattuga; the performing knee surgeon, Dr. Neofitos Stefanides; an expert engineer, Grahme Fischer; and an expert economist, Dr. Debra Dwyer. Despite the testimony of these experts, Mr. Vitucci was able to persuade the jury that the majority of the alleged injuries and medical treatment were due to pre-existing degenerative disc disease and knee degradation, and not to the impact from this accident. Furthermore, he was able to persuade the jury that the cost of future medical expenses offered by Dr. Dwyer were both erroneously calculated (as she had to concede on the stand) as well as inappropriately large.
Prior to the trial, plaintiff claimed that he could no longer work at all and was making a claim for lost wages since the date of accident through his projected working future. Successful surveillance taken prior to trial, however, led to plaintiff withdrawing his lost-wages claim.
Defendants relied on the testimony of neurosurgeon Dr. Douglas Cohen, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Gregory Montalbano, and biomechanical engineer Dr. Mariusz Ziejewski.