Following a five-day retrial, Matthew J. Vitucci once again obtained a favorable verdict for our client, Megabus, in the matter of Ebrahem v. Coach Leasing, Inc. As we reported in our legal alert of September 3, 2013, this matter was originally tried in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York before Judge Shira A. Scheindlin, resulting in a verdict of only $11,700 with 50% comparative negligence (for a net award of $5,850), which was set aside by Judge Scheindlin. The matter was reassigned to Judge Edgardo Ramos for the retrial. Plaintiff in closing argument at the retrial requested a verdict from the jury amounting to over $2.2 million. The jury unanimously returned a defense verdict.
Despite plaintiff’s opportunity to better prepare his experts for cross-examination, and despite plaintiff’s economist Dr. Dwyer’s opportunity to correct her erroneous calculations that were admitted to on the stand in the first trial, Mr. Vitucci was still able to improve upon his already-winning result. The jury unanimously found that although plaintiff underwent a six-level lumbar fusion and a left knee menisectomy, these were not related to the subject accident and plaintiff did not suffer a serious injury.
The case arose from an accident that occurred in 2012 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 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 plaintiff did not suffer a serious injury as a result of the subject accident. Defendants relied upon the testimony of neurosurgeon Dr. Douglas Cohen, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Gregory Montalbano, and biomechanical engineer Dr. Mariusz Ziejewski. Because the jury first determined a lack of serious injury, the question of negligence was never reached.
Let’s hope Matt will not have to go 3-for-3!