On October 5, 2015, Kathleen Henry was a standing passenger in a New Jersey Transit Corporation bus that rear-ended another vehicle in the Lincoln Tunnel. Ms. Henry, then 54 years old, was thrown to the floor and injured her shoulder.
In her ensuing lawsuit against the bus driver and owner, Ms. Henry was granted summary judgement as to liability and the matter proceeded to a trial on damages.
The Manhattan jury awarded pain and suffering damages in the sum of $800,000 ($400,000 past – four years, $400,000 future – 21 years). Both the trial court judge and an appeals panel in Henry v. New Jersey Transit Corp. (1st Dept. 2021) affirmed the awards as reasonable.
Here are the injury details:
- three-part proximal humerus fracture dislocation requiring emergent open reduction internal fixation surgery with the insertion of a plate and screws
- second surgery (arthroscopic) 10 months later – subacromial decompression, debridement of glenohumeral joint and rotator cuff
- one year of physical therapy
- continuing and permanent pain, decreased rotator cuff strength and decreased range of motion
- significant scar
Defendants argued that the awards were excessive claiming that plaintiff made a good recovery and her ongoing disabilities were minor and not permanent.
- Plaintiff was also awarded past medical expenses in the sum of $180,000 but the trial judge reduced her award by that amount because it had already been paid by health insurance.
- Plaintiff suffered a stroke two years after her accident; it was not severe, unrelated to her accident and she made no claim of damages related to it in this lawsuit.
- The jury was not asked to consider any claim for lost wages or future medical expenses.
- In summations, the defense suggested an award of $200,000 for past and future pain and suffering damages; plaintiff’s counsel asked for $2,300,000.