On December 13, 2014, Linda Miller was crossing the street on Broadway at its intersection with West 161st Street in Manhattan when she was struck by a van.
A jury found the van driver fully at fault and then awarded plaintiff damages in the total sum of $4,030,000 broken down as follows:
- $3,000,000 for pain and suffering ($1,750,000 past – six years, $1,250,000 future – 22 years) and
- $1,030,000 for medical expenses ($30,000 past, $1,000,000 future – 22 years)
A year and a half before this accident, plaintiff was involved in another accident (at Lincoln Center ) when an usher swung a door open and hit her in the head causing injuries and resulting in a lawsuit. In the Lincoln Center lawsuit, Ms. Miller, an actress, claimed she sustained headaches and related complaints including a seizure and a concussion, suffered from dizziness and memory issues and had pain in her neck and shoulder. That case was settled for an undisclosed sum in 2015.
At trial in the new lawsuit, the defense attempted to introduce into evidence Ms. Miller’s deposition transcript from the Lincoln Center lawsuit (held just two months before the new accident). Plaintiff argued in favor of preclusion because the defense had failed to disclose that they intended to use the transcript. The judge in the new lawsuit precluded defendants from using the transcript.
In Miller v. Camelot Communications Group, Inc. (1st Dept. 2022), the appellate court ruled that the trial judge erroneously precluded the defendants from using the deposition transcript from the prior lawsuit and therefore the ordered a new trial to be held on the issue of damages.
Here are the main injuries plaintiff, then 56 years old, claimed she sustained in the new accident:
- right arm/shoulder – comminuted fracture of dominant proximal humerus; casted; malunion
- spinal – bulging and protruding discs with residual impingement and radiculopathy requiring 18 procedures including radial ablations and spinal injections
- right wrist – carpal tunnel syndrome; surgery
- traumatic brain injury
- left knee – torn meniscus
- keloid scarring to face and leg
- depression – largely due to impact on acting career
The defense argued that many of plaintiff’s complaints were related to the prior Lincoln Center accident including the brain, shoulder and neck injuries; plaintiff claimed she was physically and socially active after the prior accident and before the new one and that now she is largely sedentary, has lost her career and is in constant pain and clinically depressed.
The defense also argued that the pain and suffering award was excessive, more in line with a catastrophic injury case such as paraplegia. Also, they argued that surveillance and social media evidence showed plaintiff had returned to an active lifestyle, including stage acting.
- Before trial, defendants offered $600,000 to settle the case; plaintiff’s demand was for $7,000,000 (the insurance coverage was $11,000,000).
- Plaintiff produced a popular Broadway show called “Legendary Ladies of Music” in which she impersonated a range of famous musicians.