SKETCHES OF COURT: Plaintiff awarded $1.375 million following automobile accident
In this courtroom sketch Hon. Francois Rivera listens as plaintiff’s attorney Larry Bonchonsky (standing), trial counsel to Brian J. Levy & Associates, addresses the jury in the motor vehicle accident trial Jennel Morgan v. Aleksandr Arakelov, et al.
In November 2013, Morgan was injured when an out-of-control box truck crossed over into the opposing lane of traffic and ran into six parked vehicles on Avenue D in the Brooklyn Terminal Market area. Morgan was in the last of the cars struck. The responding officer testified that Arakelov admitted to falling asleep at the wheel, which the defendant driver denied at trial.
After testimony on liability issues, Judge Rivera directed a verdict in favor of the plaintiff against the defendants. The trial proceeded on the determination of damages.
Morgan, who was a 25-year-old home health aide for challenged adults at the time of the accident, claimed serious injury to her neck, back and both shoulders. She claimed disc herniation, bulging discs and bilateral labral tears. In addition to physical therapy, Morgan underwent cervical disc fusion as well as two arthroscopic shoulder surgeries.
Robert Passarelli (at right), of the law firm McCabe, Collins, McGeough, Fowler, Levine & Nogan, represented Arakelov, Leo’s Apple Ltd. and Salem Truck Leasing Inc. Passarelli called on expert testimony supporting his allegation that Morgan’s injuries were degenerative, not traumatic. A biomechanical engineer alleged that the forces exerted on Morgan inside her parked vehicle would have been minimal and could not have resulted in the claimed injuries.
Bonchonsky showed surveillance video which captured the accident as Morgan’s car was pinned against an adjacent building wall. The jury deliberated approximately three hours before awarding Morgan, who has a life expectancy of 54 years, damages totaling $1.375 million. The recoverable amount will conform to a high-low agreement, in the trial that concluded last week in Kings County Civil Term.
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