SKETCHES OF COURT: Ambulette driver, service found liable in accident that injured home health aides
In this courtroom sketch, Hon. Richard Velasquez listens as attorney James Whalen (standing), of the law firm Lewis, Brisbois, Bisgaard & Smith, cross-examines Joseph Sierra, a witness for the plaintiff, in the motor vehicle accident trial Levasseur et al v. Coling Ambulette Service et al. Court reporter Doreen Gaeta-Milella (center) recorded the proceedings.
Marie Levasseur and co-plaintiff Fatime Yemitan-Carter were home health care aides and passengers riding with three of their patients in an ambulette in August of 2010. Their driver, William Morris, stopped on the right at a traffic light along Newkirk Avenue approaching the intersection of Flatbush Avenue. After the light changed to green, Morris collided with another vehicle going forward in the travel lane.
The two plaintiffs were represented by Todd Restivo (seated left), trial counsel to the law firm of Weser & Weser. The second vehicle was represented by the defendant’s attorney Richard Janowitz (seated right), of counsel to the law firm Shayne, Dachs, Corker, Sauer & Dachs.
The plaintiffs claimed that Morris caused the accident when he suddenly accelerated. They further maintained that he took cell phone calls while he was at the wheel, a contention that Morris disputed. However, the witness pictured on the stand, who works in T-Mobile law enforcement relations, testified to the existence of records of these calls.
The jury found no negligence on the part of the second vehicle, but determined 100 percent liability against Morris and Coling Ambulette Service.
Levasseur, 60, and Yemitan-Carter, 40, claimed that the clash gave them serious injuries, which have prevented their return to work. After physical therapy and more conservative pain management, Levasseur underwent three arthroscopic surgeries on her knees and shoulder, while Yemitan-Carter sustained numerous injuries to her back and knees and had cervical spinal fusion as well as arthroscopic surgery to her knee.
The trial was resolved prior to closing statements with a damages settlement totaling $2.5 million in Kings County Civil Term.
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