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SKETCHES OF COURT: Jury rules in favor of drivers in pedestrian two-car accident trial

July 1, 2016 By Alba Acevedo Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Court Sketch by Alba Acevedo
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In this courtroom sketch, Hon. David Vaughan listens as plaintiff’s attorney Maurice Recchia (standing), of counsel at the law firm Russo & Toner, conducts a direct examination of an expert witness in the motor vehicle accident trial Wagner v. Jean-Gilles et. al. Dr. Leonard Harrison, an orthopedic surgeon, is shown on the stand and holding a visual aid of a cervical spine. 

The accident occurred when a taxi and a BMW collided near the intersection of East 23rd Street and Second Avenue in Manhattan in the early hours of Sept. 18, 2011. Christopher Wagner, a pedestrian, was walking nearby when the cab, driven by Mohammad Sarier for Ruckman Hacking Corp., hopped the curb and struck Wagner, knocking him unconscious.  

The jury attributed 70 percent liability to Sarier, who was represented by Donna Thurston (at right), trial counsel for the law firm Gerber & Gerber. The BMW was operated by Thony Jean-Gilles, who was found 30 percent at fault for the accident. He was represented by Jaret SanPietro (second from right) of the law firm Adams, Hanson, Rego, Carlin, Hughes, Kaplan & Fishbein. 

At issue was the question of damages. Wagner, 26 at the time, claimed he developed neck and back problems. He complained of dizziness, headaches, pain and troubled sleep. He also sought treatment from a dentist for two cracked teeth.

An MRI confirmed a diagnosis of cervical and lumbar disc herniations, and it was also found that he had sustained a concussion. 

The co-defendants argued that Wagner’s injuries were not significant or serious. They alleged that his claims were inconsistent with his physical activities, since Wagner continues to play hockey, had not taken medication, had quickly returned to work and had testified that a four-month course of physical therapy provided substantial relief.

The jury returned a verdict for the defendants in the trial that concluded this week in Kings County Civil Term.


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