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Suit Claiming Double-Parked UPS Truck Caused Crash Settles for $2 Million in Essex

UPS Delivery Truck
UPS Delivery Truck

Credit: MikeDotta/Shutterstock.com

A motorist who suffered brain and spinal injuries in an accident involving a UPS delivery truck agreed to a $2 million settlement in his Essex county suit, Cuff v. United Parcel Service, on Feb. 13.

Plaintiff Paul Cuff was driving on Mount Prospect Avenue in Newark on Aug. 17, 2011, when his vehicle collided with another car driven by Francis Folassobgoum.

A UPS truck was double-parked in the roadway while its driver made a delivery, prompting Folassobgoum to cross the center line and drive into oncoming traffic, where he collided with Cuff's vehicle head-on, according to the suit.

Cuff sustained spine and brain injuries and was unable to continue in his job as a stationary engineer after the crash, said Elizabeth Boylan of The Maglione Firm in Newark, who represented the plaintiff along with the firm's Dean Maglione. Cuff suffered significant short- and long-term memory loss and a herniation at L5-S1, which necessitated lumbar surgery and ongoing pain management treatment, according to Boylan.

The parties disagreed over the plaintiff's discovery requests about prior crashes involving UPS delivery trucks that were double-parked and about the company's policies about leaving delivery trucks double-parked in the street, Boylan said. UPS did not collect data about crashes involving double-parked vehicles, but plaintiff counsel alleged that the company's practice of paying tickets for drivers who double-park sent the message that the danger of double-parking is the cost of doing business, Boylan said.

The lawyer for UPS, Benjamin Tartaglia III of Mintzer Sarowitz Zeris Ledva & Meyers in Cherry Hill, declined to comment about the case.

— Charles Toutant

$1.5M Auto Verdict in Ocean

Reckhow v. Gray: In a motor vehicle case tried before Superior Court Judge James Den Uyl, an Ocean County jury awarded $1.5 million on March 15. The total recovery is to be $1.78 million.

The jury rendered a verdict to plaintiff Nicoletta Reckhow for $1.5 million for pain and suffering resulting from injuries she sustained from an accident that occurred in early 2016 in Toms River.

The jury determined that Reckhow's neck and shoulder injuries were caused, and her medical treatment necessitated, by the accident. According to an agreement reached by the parties before trial, because the jury found causation, the court will mold the verdict to include a health insurance lien of $195,408.52, according to Matthew R. Mendelsohn and Adam M. Epstein of Mazie Slater Katz & Freeman in Roseland, counsel to Reckhow.

When $90,901.76 in prejudgment is added, the total recovery is in excess of $1.78 million, they said.

The accident occurred on Jan.18, 2016, when Reckhow, now 62, was traveling northbound from Romana Lane, through the intersection of Route 37, and towards Bananier Drive, in Toms River in her 2011 Honda Accord, the lawyers said.

Reckhow, of Weehawken, was at a complete stop at a red light at the intersection when the light turned green and she began to proceed through the intersection, across Route 37. That’s when defendant Natale Gray, traveling eastbound on Route 37 at the same intersection in a 2008 GMC Sierra pickup truck at approximately 60 mph, accelerated and went through the intersection, despite having a red light, according to Mendelsohn.

This resulted ina collision between the front of Gray’s truck and the side of Reckhow’s vehicle, causing Reckhow’s Accord to spin around multiple times and strike the concrete median head-on, Mendelsohn said.

Gray, 21, of Whiting, was represented by Sonya Bright of Marie Carey's law office in Florham Park. Bright did not return a call on the verdict.

Kelly Gray, the defendant's mother, was listed as co-defendant because she owns the GMC Sierra, according to court documents. She was not in the truck at the time of the accident.

Plaintiff Reckhow suffered several bone and rib fractures, including a disc herniation requiring surgery, and rotator cuff tear to her left shoulder from the collision, her lawyers said.

Mendelsohn said due to the injuries and surgeries, his client’s right pinky finger no longer bends, preventing her right hand from functioning normally, and she has pain and reduced range of motion in her neck and shoulder.

— Suzette Parmley