New Jersey State Jury Awards $ 1.58 Million To Bicyclist Who Suffered Broken Arm And Rotator Cuff Injury In Collision With City-Owned Vehicle
On the morning of July 23, 2014, 55-year-old plaintiff Rhonda Martin was riding a bicycle southbound on Landis Avenue in the City of Sea Isle City, New Jersey. At that same time, defendant Jeffrey Jones was operating a work vehicle in the course of his employment with defendant City of Sea Isle City. Martin later maintained that Jones was travelling in the same direction as Martin on Landis Avenue toward a three road intersection at 93rd Street and Roberts Avenue. A collision between Martin and Jones occurred at that intersection, and Jones's vehicle ran over Martin's left arm. Martin 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 elbow fracture was surgically repaired, and a tissue transfer was necessary to close the wound. She underwent over two years of physical therapy and continued to treat with an orthopedist.
On Feb. 6, 2015, Martin and her husband Ronald Martin filed an action against Jones and Sea Isle City in the New Jersey Superior Court for Cape May County. Plaintiffs asserted claims for negligence and loss of consortium.
According to information provided by plaintiffs' counsel, prior to trial, the parties attempted mediation before the Honorable James Isman, J.S.C., ret., on Feb. 24, 2017. That effort proved unsuccessful, with the highest offer from the defendants to settle being $ 90,000. On April 19, 2017, a settlement conference occurred with Judge J. Christopher Gibson. At that conference, 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 defendants increase that offer, or even broach the subject of settlement.
In August of 2017, the parties appeared for a jury trial before Judge Gibson, where the issues of liability and damages were both contested. As to liability, Martin contended that she had the right of way, as she was travelling on Landis, and that Jones should have yielded to her and allowed her to pass before he attempted to turn on to Roberts. Defendants, however, contended that Martin was actually on Roberts Avenue, and that she caused the accident by turning into his vehicle, apparently in an attempt to get back on to Landis Avenue.
On Aug. 10, 2017, the jury returned a verdict in plaintiff's favor, awarding her a total of $1,580,813.22 in damages. As to liability, the jury found by an 8 to 0 vote that the Jones was negligent, and by the same vote that his negligence was a proximate cause of the accident. By a 7 to 1 vote, the jury found that Martin was not negligent.
Plaintiff was represented by Kevin L. Parsons of Gill & Chamas. Defendants were represented by Thomas G. Smith.
Lexis Advance subscribers may view the complete summary, including expert information, here: Rhonda Martin v. City of Sea Isle City and Jeffrey Jones, individually, and as agent, servant, and/or employee of City of Sea Isle City; 2017 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 9124
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