Brooklyn Boro

SKETCHES OF COURT: Passenger in three-car collision awarded $700K

May 18, 2016 By Alba Acevedo Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Court sketch by Alba Acevedo
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In this courtroom sketch, Hon. Peter Sweeney listens as plaintiff’s attorney Jeffrey Guzman (standing), of the law firm Krentzel & Guzman, conducts a direct examination in the motor vehicle accident trial Agrest v. Murphy. On the stand is responding officer Sgt. Michael Chiarelli of the Triboro Bridge and Tunnel Authority. The three-car collision occurred in November 2013 in Staten Island. 

Alla Agrest, 47 years old at the time, was at a full stop when her car was struck from the rear, and she claimed she felt two impacts. Co-defendant of Murphy, Myriam Volpe, was represented by Kenneth Finder (at right), of the law firm Pillinger Miller Tarallo, and was driving the vehicle directly behind Agrest. John Murphy’s car was last in the chain. Murphy was represented by Adam Levine (seated, center), of the law offices of James G. Bilello & Associates. 

The defendant parties argued their relative liability, each maintaining that the other hit first and pushed their car into Agrest’s, but the jury found both equally at fault. 

Agrest claimed that as a result of the accident, she required anterior cervical discectomy and fusion surgery to repair herniations and other injuries to her neck. Generally, the procedure removes a herniated or degenerative disc in the neck area of the spine, after which a bone graft is inserted to fuse together the bones above and below the disc space. Agrest also underwent arthroscopic surgery to her right knee. 

The defendants variously maintained that either the accident exacerbated chronic and not traumatic conditions, or that Agrest’s injuries did not rise to the level of serious injury. The jury, however, saw fit to award Agrest a total of $700,000 in damages, including $500,000 for past pain and suffering, in the trial that concluded last week in Kings County Civil Term. 

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