On February 3, 2010, Emilio Carino was driving his van in the Bronx with two passengers. While stopped at a red light, the van was struck in the rear by another vehicle.

Carino and his passengers sued the other driver who conceded liability. A trial on damages ensued and the Bronx jury awarded pain and suffering damages to the three plaintiffs in the sums of $200,000, $150,000 and $55,000 (all past – six years).

Plaintiffs appealed arguing that the awards were inadequate but the appellate court in Carino v. Friendly Fruit, Inc. (1st Dept. 2019) affirmed the jury’s awards and declined to either increase any of the past pain and suffering awards or award anything at all for future pain and suffering damages.

Here are the injuries claimed:

  1. Emilio Carino (41 years old; awarded $200,000): herniated disc at C5-6 with spinal fusion surgery
  2. Katherine Maldonado (34 years old; $150,000): torn labrum in shoulder with two arthroscopic surgeries, herniated disc in low back with laminectomy
  3. Amarilis Gonzalez (38 years old; $55,000): labral tear in shoulder with arthroscopic surgery, herniated discs at L5-S1 and C6-7 with discectomies

The jury found that plaintiffs each met the significant limitation of a body function or system threshold under Insurance Law Section 5102 but also that none of them sustained a permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member standard under the statute.

Plaintiffs claimed that all of their injures and treatment (including extensive therapy and injections) were related to the accident and that they were left with continuing pain, restricted ranges of motions, disabilities as to activities of daily living and recreation and needing future additional surgeries. The defense, however, harped on the theme that the impact was low speed and minor (the property damage bill for plaintiff’s vehicle was $550), no one complained of any pain at all at the scene or sought any medical treatment until two days later when they went to a clinic, none had a claim for lost earnings (each having returned to work quickly) and that each plaintiff had pre-existing degenerative conditions and there were no traumatically induced injuries.