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SKETCHES OF COURT: Jury awards plaintiff $60K in car accident trial

December 7, 2015 By Alba Acevedo Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Court sketch by Alba Acevedo
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In this courtroom sketch, Hon. Wavny Toussaint listens as the plaintiff’s attorney Harry Burstein (standing), of the law firm Fischer & Burstein, summarizes his arguments in the motor vehicle accident trial Arkadiusz Piotrowicz v. Shulem Tessler. Attorney Erol Gurcan (at right), of the law firm Hannum Feretic Prendergast & Merlino, represented the defendant. At issue in the summary jury trial was the consideration of damages. Liability was previously decided by the court.

Piotrowicz claimed a rear-ender collision on June 5, 2012, caused him to sustain disc herniation and disc bulging in his cervical spine. He had been involved in two prior vehicular accidents, in February and July 2010 (with attendant lawsuits), for which he had also claimed injuries in the c4 thru c6 spinal region, which were injuries identical to his present claim.  

Gurcan maintained that Piotrowicz’ injuries were pre-existing, and that he should not be awarded damages for claims resolved in prior lawsuits. He sought to impugn Piotrowicz’ current actions by calling him a professional plaintiff. 

Burstein asserted that the prior injuries, while identical, had fully healed. Photographs to support his position showed plaintiff snowboarding and waterskiing since 2010 and before the current date of loss, and alleged that his client has endured significant limitations as a result of the 2012 accident. He asked for $150,000 compensation for past pain and suffering. He suggested $380,000 for future pain and suffering, given his client’s life expectancy of 38 years. 

During deliberations, the jury inquired about the police accident report, which was not in evidence in the damages-only trial. They returned a verdict awarding Piotrowicz $20,000 for past pain and suffering, and $40,000 for two years of future pain and suffering. The trial concluded last week in Kings County Civil Term. 

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