$1,750,000 Settlement – Motor Vehicle Accident – Man badly injured when his car was struck by a van
Defense disputes diagnosis, said plaintiff’s lingering injuries weren’t severe
Christian Nolan, The Connecticut Law Tribune
March 31, 2015: Joseph Amorando III v. Alexian Nunez and Electro-Methods Inc.: A mechanic who was badly injured in a car wreck and won’t be able to fix motorcycles again has settled his lawsuit for $1.75 million.
Joseph Amorando III, 43, of West Haven, worked for Arite Auto Parts in New Britain. While on break on July 10, 2012, Amorando went to run an errand. As he approached an intersection in New Britain, a van delivering aerospace parts to a nearby business pulled out from Sherrill Street in front of him. The van driver, Alexian Nunez, worked for Electro-Methods of South Windsor.
According to plaintiff’s lawyer, Patrick Kennedy, of RisCassi & Davis in Hartford, Amorando was unable to stop in time and crashed into the side of the Nunez’s van.
Kennedy said Amorando suffered severe injuries to his left side. He later had arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder, a procedure which included a biceps tendon repair. After surgery, Amorando continued to have pain in the chest and neck as well as the shoulder. He then underwent more surgery for what is called a supraclavicular neuroma, a nerve problem in the clavicle region.
Kennedy said the second surgery also failed to alleviate Amorando’s pain. Amorando next consulted with Dr. Mark Thimineur, who heads the Comprehensive Pain and Headache Treatment Center at Griffin Hospital in Derby.
Amorando was diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome, a rare form of chronic pain that typically affects the legs or arms and is caused by a malfunction in the central nervous system. Kennedy said his client’s affliction is rarer because it affects Amorando’s chest area rather than his extremities. “It’s a sharp, searing, burning pain pretty much 24 hours a day in his chest, upper chest and clavicle area,” said Kennedy. “When it is really bad, [the pain] travels to the neck and the top of the head.”
Kennedy said the Derby treatment center clinic tried to manage Amorando’s pain with medications first, which didn’t work. Next, physicians tried an external spinal cord stimulator—a device used to exert pulsed electrical signals to the spinal cord to control chronic pain.
“Doctors use this device to try to trick the brain into thinking there’s no pain, but that didn’t work,” said Kennedy. “So basically he’s left with no real cure for this except the hope that maybe the [U.S. Food & Drug Administration] will clear a new stimulator that the doctor thinks may be cleared in a couple years that could provide more relief.”
Kennedy said Amorando had a close relationship with his boss. The employer kept him on the payroll for about a year-and-a-half after the accident in hopes that his injuries would heal sufficiently. Amorando would go to the repair shop on a regular basis but he was unable to perform any mechanic work. “He was kind of hanging out at the shop,” said Kennedy. “For a long period of time after the accident, his boss accommodated him with the hope medical treatments would solve this problem but when he finally realized that wasn’t going to happen, he had to let him go.”
Kennedy said his client is now applying for Social Security disability benefits. Kennedy described it as a “life-changing” injury. Amorando filed a negligence lawsuit against Nunez for failure to keep a proper lookout and failure to yield the right of way. The claim also included Nunez’s employer, as Nunez was on the job at the time of the crash.
he defendants were represented by James Shields, of Sharp, Shields & Smith in Rocky Hill. The firm is counsel to Zurich insurance. Shields did not return calls for comment.
Kennedy said the defense argued that the accident was Amorando’s fault because he was driving too fast, which allegedly prevented him from avoiding the collision. Kennedy said there was no evidence to indicate that his client was speeding.
Kennedy said the defense also argued against the concept of complex regional pain syndrome. They said the pain was in Amorando’s head, as there was nothing that could be detected on any imaging tests. Also, because Amorando stayed on the payroll at his job for so long after the crash, the defense argued that it showed he could continue to work and, given his mechanic experience, could at least manage other workers.
The two sides went to mediation March 4 with retired Judge Jonathan Silbert, who is now of counsel at Garrison, Levin-Epstein, Richardson, Fitzgerald & Pirrotti in New Haven. For the mediation, Kennedy presented a video he thought was helpful to his client’s case. The video contained interviews with family, friends and coworkers who described how poorly Amorando has been doing since the car accident.
In the end, the former judge helped the two sides come to a $1.75 million settlement.
“At the end of the day it was the client’s decision. I felt like we had a very strong case and with the right jury we could get more than that,” said Kennedy. “But to get that much money for a guy that’s never made a lot of money, it’s got to be his decision and he chose not to risk it.”