By Donald Wittkowski
A Pennsylvania woman who was struck by a Sea Isle City work vehicle while she was riding her bicycle in 2014 has been awarded nearly $1.6 million to compensate her for her injuries.
Rhonda Martin, of North Wales, Pa., was awarded the money on Aug. 10 by a Cape May County jury, according to the New Jersey Law Journal.
However, Sea Isle City Business Administrator George Savastano said the attorney representing the town’s insurance carrier will file papers with the court seeking a new trial in Martin’s lawsuit.
City Solicitor Paul Baldini said most of the $1.58 million that was awarded to Martin will be paid by Sea Isle’s insurance carrier. The city belongs to the Municipal Excess Liability Joint Insurance Fund, which represents municipalities across New Jersey under the same umbrella.
Baldini discussed Martin’s lawsuit during City Council’s meeting on Sept. 12 in response to questions from a local resident about how much the jury verdict would cost Sea Isle taxpayers. He said the cost to the city would be only “marginal” because of its insurance coverage, but he did not have a figure.
During his comments at the Council meeting, Baldini seemed to question the wisdom of the insurance carrier in taking the case to trial.
“It turned out not to be a good decision,” he said.
Baldini said Sea Isle typically has about 10 lawsuits pending against it at any given time. In Martin’s suit, the city’s limited exposure to the jury verdict reflected Sea Isle’s good record overall with its insurance coverage and litigation, according to Baldini.
Martin sued the city after she was struck by a Sea Isle work vehicle driven by a municipal employee on July 23, 2014. The accident occurred at a three-point intersection of Landis Avenue, 93rd Street and Roberts Avenue.
The jury awarded Martin $1.5 million for past and future pain and suffering, disability and loss of enjoyment, $60,000 for future medical expenses and $20,813 for past medical expenses, her attorney, Kevin Parsons, of Woodbridge, N.J., told the Law Journal.
Martin suffered a broken left elbow, a tear to her left rotator cuff and tears to two ligaments in her left wrist. She underwent surgery to repair damage to her elbow and was in physical therapy for two years, the Law Journal reported.