On September 28, 2013, Elmi Mehmeti was driving his car on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway when it was struck in the rear by another vehicle and forced into the guardrail.
Mr. Mehmeti, then 34 years old, sued the other driver and owner. His motion for summary judgment as to liability was granted and the case then proceeded to a trial on damages only.
After determining that plaintiff has sustained a permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member (one of the so-called threshold requirements under CPLR 5102 which governs damages in car crash cases), the Richmond County jury awarded pain and suffering damages in the sum of $108,900 ($50,000 past – four years, $58,900 future – 38 years).
The trial judge denied plaintiff’s motion to increase the award and in Mehmeti v. Miller (2d Dept. 2021), the appellate court affirmed the jury’s award.
Plaintiff had sought millions for pain and suffering and other damages based largely upon his claim that the crash caused a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress and concussion syndromes. He also claimed left wrist (and arm and shoulder) injuries – a perforation of the triangular fibrocartilage complex requiring some limited casting and some range of motion losses and continuing pain.
To support his left wrist claim, plaintiff produced the testimony of his treating orthopedic surgeon who opined that plaintiff’s wrist injury is permanent.
To support his brain injury claims, plaintiff introduced the expert testimony of a renowned brain rehabilitation expert and a psychiatrist. They concluded that plaintiff sustained a mild traumatic brain injury with permanent short term memory impairment, light sensitivity, decreased sleep, anxiety and depression and headaches. They also concluded that plaintiff’s injuries are permanent and he will require extensive future medical treatment.
The defense noted that plaintiff’s complaints at the emergency room appear to have been limited to to his left upper extremity, he was treated and released from the ER on the same day and he did not seek any treatment for head/brain related injuries until a month later. Furthermore, the defense produced the testimony of an expert neurologist who opined that (a) plaintiff’s psychiatric exam was normal and (b) there was no evidence of any brain injury, anxiety, depression or PTSD. He concluded that plaintiff was a malingerer and an exaggerator.
The jury declined to award anything at all for plaintiff’s future loss of earnings claim. He missed only four days from his job with a security company; his claim was based upon his allegation that he would have to stop work in 12 years due to his injuries
- Plaintiff did not produce the testimony of his treating neurologist; he did though produce his neuropsychologist.
- Plaintiff argued that the defense neurologist, William Head, M.D., was nothing more than a “hired gun” who is not worthy of any respect as an expert.