On February 1, 2013, Marie Petit was a passenger in a city bus that crashed into another vehicle on Ralph Avenue in Brooklyn.

Ms. Petit, then a 55 year old home health aide, sued both drivers claiming she sustained spinal injuries.

A Kings County jury (a) determined that the accident was wholly the fault of the bus driver and (b) awarded plaintiff pain and suffering damages in the sum of $2,100,000 ($600,000 past – six years, $1,500,000 future – 25 years). The trial judge reduced the award to $1,800,000 ($600,000 past, $1,200,000 future) and in Petit v. Archer (2d Dept. 2023), the appellate court affirmed the reduction.

Here are injury details:

  • Herniated disc at C4-5 with radiculopathy requiring cervical diskectomy and fusion surgery with insertion of a plate and screws
  • Continuing neck and back pain with 50% loss of range of motion in her neck and 40% in her back
  • Unable to return to work or participate in activities previously performed including cooking, doing laundry and church activities
  • Will need additional cervical surgery in 10 years

The defense experts (an orthopedic surgeon and a radiologist) testified that plaintiff had significant degeneration in her spine that pre-existed the accident, there was no sign of any fresh, ruptured or acute traumatic discs and the surgery was not related to the accident.

The jury also awarded plaintiff damages for loss of earnings in the sum of $875,000 ($350,000 past – six years, $525,000 future – nine years.; however, this award was reduced to $541,000 ($145,000 past, $396,000 future) based upon her tax returns.

Finally, the jury also awarded plaintiff damages for future medical expenses in the sum of $1,800,000 (25 years); however, this award was reduced to $700,000 based upon the testimony of plaintiff’s experts as to the cost of various items such as pain medication, doctor visits, epidural injections and physical therapy treatment.