On March 2, 2005, Jeremy Killenberger was a rear seat passenger in a car being driven by Kevin Miller on State Route 7 in Princetown, Schenectady County. Mr. Miller lost control of his vehicle as a result of snow and ice conditions, causing it to cross over the center lane and crash into the path of a snowplow.

Mr. Killenberger, then 25 years old, sustained massive orthopedic  injuries. Another passenger, James Croote, also 25 years old, was killed as a result of the crash.

Mr. Killenberger (and Mr. Croote’s estate) sued both Mr. Miller as well as the State of New York (claiming that windblown snow on the highway was a recurrent dangerous condition the state should have remedied).  After a nonjury trial, the Court of Claims judge ruled that the state was 75% liable and the driver 25% liable.

Two years after the liability decision, the same judge held a damages trial following which he determined that reasonable compensation for claimant’s pain and suffering is $2,750,000 ($1,250,000 past – 12.5 years, $1,500,000 future – 38 years). He also awarded past medical expenses in the sum of  $31,374. Mr. Croote’s estate was awarded $200,000.

The state appealed but in Killenberger v. State of New York (3d Dept. 2021), the judgments have been affirmed.

Here are the injury details as to Mr. Killenberger:

  • pelvis fracture with pubic symphysis opened at least 10 centimeters and shattered wing requiring open reduction internal fixation (“ORIF”) surgery

  • comminuted (four pieces) acetabular fracture requiring ORIF  and need for future total hip replacement
  • bilateral tibia/fibula and ankle joint fractures requiring ORIF
  • one month in hospital then several months bedridden, unable to walk unassisted for two years
  • numerous scars
  • permanent foot drop
  • nerve damage causing erectile disfunction
  • continuing pain requiring narcotic medications

Inside Information:

  • The initial claim sought only $2,000,000 for damages. Following motion practice, the judge allowed claimant the full damages he assessed.
  • Defendant proffered no witnesses or testimony disputing claimant’s medical proof.
  • This case was hard and successfully prosecuted over many years by Schenectady attorney John R. Seebold