Offer Prior to Trial: $0
Thursday, September 1, 2022
Ambrogio v. New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Co.:
An Essex County jury awarded $2.4 million on April 29 in the case of a motorist struck from behind at a red light.
According to plaintiffs and defense counsel, on July 27, 2016, plaintiff Dyan Ambrogio, 51, was stopped at a red light, heading west on Grand Avenue in Montvale. The rear of her sedan was struck by a trailing car driven by Ediane Bonilla. Ambrogio alleged that Bonilla was negligent in the operation of a vehicle. Ambrogio also sued her insurer, New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Co. She sought to recover her underinsured-motorist policy of $300,000.
Ambrogio was ultimately diagnosed with herniations at cervical and lumbar intervertebral discs C4-5, C5-6, C6-7 and L5-S1. She began a course of chiropractic treatment physical therapy and acupuncture through 2018. She also received three epidural injections into the lumbar spine in 2017.
Ambrogio's expert in orthopedic surgery testified that the accident caused Ambrogio to suffer a permanent injury. According to Ambrogio's expert in neuro radiology, imaging studies showed evidence of traumatic injuries with no indication of any significant degenerative disc disease. Ambrogio testified that her ongoing lower back pain prevents her from sitting for long periods, going on walks, sleeping well and staying overall physically active. She sought damages for past and future pain and suffering. Her husband saw damages for loss of consortium. The defenses expert in orthopedic surgery attributed Ambrogio's complaints and treatment to pre-existing disk degeneration. The defense's expert in neurology testified that imaging studies were absent of any traumatic injury and only showed degenerative pathology.
Prior to trial, Bonilla's insurer tended its policy, which provided $15,000 of coverage. During non-binding arbitration, Ambrogio was assessed a recovery of $77,700 from New Jersey manufacturers insurance, which was reduced to $62,700 due to the Bonilla settlement. The defense filed for a trial de novo of the arbitration award, which the court granted.
The defense stipulated to liability. The case proceeded to a trial that addressed causation, permanency and damages. After a 5-day trial before Essex County Superior Court Judge Robert H. Gardner, the jury found by a 5 to 1 vote that Ambrogio suffered permanent injuries as a result of the accident. It determined that her damages totaled $2 million, and that her husband was entitled to $400,000 for loss of consortium.
The plaintiffs were represented by Peter De Frank of De Frank Law Group in Wayne.
-- Aaron Jenkins
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