On September 29, 2013, Stelios Hadjidemetriou was stopped at a red light in Astoria when his car was struck in the rear causing his knee to strike the dashboard. He sued the other driver alleging a knee injury.

After the Queens jury returned a liability verdict in plaintiff’s favor, a damages trial was conducted following which the same jury returned a verdict awarding plaintiff pain and suffering damages in the sum of $2,000 (past only – three and a half years).

The trial judge denied plaintiff’s motion to increase the damages award. In Hadjidemetriou v. Juarez  (2d Dept. 2020), the appellate court increased the pain and suffering award to $50,000 but determined that the jury’s award of no damages for future pain and suffering is not contrary to the weight of the evidence.

Here are the injury details:

  • Plaintiff, then 68 years old, declined medical attention at the scene but called an orthopedic surgeon five days later after his knee swelled up and was painful
  • First medical treatment was 25 days post-accident (first available appointment)
  • MRI showed a complex tear of the posterior horn of the medial meniscus, mild degenerative changes of the lateral meniscus and high grade cartilage loss in the central patella
  • Arthroscopic surgery on 1/9/14 – partial medial meniscectomy
  • Six days at home post-surgery on crutches followed by two months of physical therapy
  • Continuing pain going up stairs and unable to jog (as he used to regularly before the collision)
  • Needs total knee replacement surgery within seven years

The defense expert orthopedic surgeon disagreed with plaintiff’s expert. He opined that plaintiff did not tear his meniscus in the accident, did not need the surgery he underwent and that his injury was due to degeneration, aging and wear and tear. He noted that plaintiff had pre-existing chondromalacia in his knee as well as osteoarthritis. Plaintiff countered noting that whatever the pre-existing condition of his knee, he was asymptomatic, active and pain-free prior to this accident.

Inside Information:

  • The defendant driver paid plaintiff $800 for damages to his vehicle at the scene of the accident.
  • Plaintiff’s counsel requested additur to $200,000 ($100,000 past and $100,000 future).