Managing Partner Joseph Orlando Prevails on Threshold Motion in Cervical Fusion case with a $1 Million Demand

In the case of Joseph Mobley, et al. v. J. Foster Phillips Funeral Home, (Queens County Supreme Court, Index # 27220/2011, Judge Howard Lane), the five plaintiffs were passengers in the client’s limousine which was on its way to a funeral when it was involved in a motor vehicle accident. Liability was deemed to be a question of fact due to conflicting stories between the drivers. At the close of discovery, Mr. Orlando submitted a summary judgment motion to dismiss the claims of all five plaintiffs for failing to meet NY’s “Serious Injury” threshold under Insurance Law §5102(d). Two of the plaintiffs were minor children who only missed two weeks of school following the accident and had chiropractic treatment for 6-8 weeks. Those claims were dismissed as not meeting threshold. One of the adult plaintiffs, Joseph Mobley, underwent a cervical fusion one year post-accident and his attorney alleged this surgery was causally related. Fortunately, Mr. Orlando was able to uncover four prior accidents (3 motor vehicle and 1 work accident) within 10 years of the subject accident wherein Mr. Mobley had sustained injuries to his neck and back. Defendants’ experts opined that Mr. Mobley’s neck condition was the result of these prior accidents and pre-existed the subject accident. In opposition to the threshold motion, plaintiff’s counsel submitted an affirmed report of known neurologist Dr. Hausknecht who examined plaintiff on a single occasion 2.5 years after the subject accident and who opined that plaintiff’s neck condition was causally related. However, neither plaintiff nor plaintiff’s counsel ever informed Dr. Hausknecht of Mr. Mobley’s priors as Dr. Hausknecht noted twice in his report “there is no prior history of neck problems”. We then argued and the court agreed that Dr. Hausknecht’s opinion on causation was speculative and not competent as he had never been apprised of Mr. Mobley’s prior accidents and medical treatment for his neck. The judge concluded that plaintiff “failed to establish a causal connection between the accident and [Mr. Mobley’s] injuries” and dismissed Mr. Mobley’s claims. Additionally, the judge dismissed Mr. Mobley’s claim based on the 90/180 category of “serious injury” given Mr. Orlando’s submission of a record from one of Mr. Mobley’s treating physicians, dated one month post-accident, wherein the doctor opined that Mr. Mobley was capable of returning to work. Judge Lane also dismissed all of the claims of the two other adult plaintiffs for failing to meet the “serious injury” threshold except for their respective claims based on the 90/180 category.