In a matter tried before Judge Christine Farrington in the New Jersey Superior Court, Bergen County, over the course of two weeks, Matthew J. Vitucci obtained a defense verdict on behalf of a tractor trailer company and its driver, in a highly emotional wrongful death suit filed on behalf of a 13 year old bicyclist. Plaintiffs, the parents of the bicyclist, sought recovery for wrongful death, conscious pain and suffering and fear of impending death. Plaintiffs sought recovery above the defendants’ policy limits pursuant to a claim of bad faith.
On June 17, 2015, the 13 year old was bicycling to school. Upon approaching the intersection where the accident occurred, the child was seen by the defendant driver to be riding fast along a downhill roadway while also looking down. During the trial cross examination of plaintiffs’ witnesses, including a school crossing guard and a responding police lieutenant, it was revealed that at the time of the fatal collision, the child was late for class.
There was no traffic control in the bicyclist’s direction, whereas the tractor trailer had a stop sign facing him at the subject intersection. After stopping and then moving forward to see beyond overgrown foliage, the truck driver proceeded to execute a left turn. As the truck was turning, the bicyclist made contact with the rear wheels of the 67 foot tractor trailer and sustained grievous injuries resulting in his death.
Plaintiffs claimed that the defendants bore liability for failing to yield to the bicyclist who had the right of way and was in a school zone.
After Mr. Vitucci’s closing statements and within just 28 minutes, the jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of GVK’s clients, stating that the defendant driver was not negligent in the operation of his tractor trailer.
This case had been the subject of a GVK rapid emergency response led by Heather C. Ragone, which proved enormously beneficial given the early preservation of evidence, interaction with authorities on behalf of the defendants and early involvement of experts, including accident reconstructionist John Desch and forensic pathologist Michael Baden, M.D.