On July 23, 2016, Jimmy Galarza was stopped in his car at an intersection in Hempstead when a Nassau County Sheriff’s Department vehicle struck his car in the rear.

Mr. Galarza, then 26 years old, claimed he sustained several significant injuries in the crash and sued the other driver and the county. He was granted summary judgment as to liability and the jury then awarded him pain and suffering damages in the sum of $500,000 ($120,000 past – three years, $380,000 future – 47 years) and future medical expenses in the sum of $700,000.

The trial judge granted the defendants’ motion regarding excessiveness of the awards and reduced the future pain and suffering award to $100,000 and the future medical expenses award to zero; however, in Galarza v. Heaney (2d Dept. 2022), the trial judge’s order has been reversed and the jury’s damages awards have been reinstated.

Here are the injury details:

  • torn meniscus in knee requiring arthroscopic surgery (synovectomy and debridement)
  • physical therapy for one year
  • residual pain and limitations resulting in inability to lift packages, play basketball or lift weights as he used to

Plaintiff claimed injuries to his spine (herniated discs), another knee and a shoulder (none of which required surgery) but the defense argued they were not caused by this accident and the trial judge agreed. Furthermore, in his summation, plaintiff’s counsel conceded that the shoulder injury had resolved and his focus was upon the knee injury that required surgery.

Inside Information:

  • Plaintiff had been a Fed Ex deliveryman at the time of the accident. Due to his inability to lift packages anymore, plaintiff switched careers and became a personal trainer (though he claimed he merely instructs his clients and does not exercise with them).
  • During the trial, the defense offered $150,000 to settle; plaintiff rejected the offer.
  • In summations, the defense suggested that a $15,000 pain and suffering award would be “legitimate;” plaintiff’s counsel asked for $1,000,000.