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
- 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