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SKETCHES OF COURT: Jury returns defense verdict in motor vehicle accident trial

October 27, 2015 By Alba Acevedo Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Court sketch by Alba Acevedo
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In this courtroom sketch, Hon. Bernard Graham listens as attorney Bruce Cantin (standing), of the law firm Cellino & Barnes, conducts a direct examination of the plaintiff in the summary jury motor vehicle accident trial Tejeda v. Chera. Court Clerk Sandra Valles is seated at right. At issue was the determination of damages, as liability was conceded prior to trial.

Wellington Tejeda, a livery service driver behind the wheel of his Toyota Camry, was rear-ended by the defendant’s Range Rover while stopped near the Cropsey Avenue exit on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in May 2011. The plaintiff testified to feeling a heavy impact, but drove away from the scene after refusing the police’s offer of an ambulance. A week later he sought treatment at a medical center for his claim of persistent neck and back pain, eventually deciding against risky surgery but continuing to work and use his car out of the necessity of earning a living. Cantin suggested that the jury award damages in the amount of $100,000 for his 42-year-old client‘s past and future pain and suffering.

The defendant’s attorney Nada Saxon (seated center), of the law office of Karen L. Lawrence, alleged that Tejeda’s injuries were strains and sprains for which ‘gentle physical therapy’ was prescribed. She cited defense doctors’ finding of chronic degeneration, denying there was any causal relationship between the accident and the plaintiff’s broad-based disc herniation.

Both attorneys alleged in their summations to the jury that the vehicle’s airbag had, or had not, deployed. The jury deliberated for fewer than two hours before returning a defense verdict, finding that the plaintiff had not suffered any significant injury or limitation, in the trial that concluded last week in the Kings County Civil Term. 

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