Tree-Related Injury Case Costs NYC $7.5 Million

, New York Law Journal

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New York City has agreed to pay $7.5 million to settle a lawsuit by a woman severely injured in an accident she claimed was caused by a tree branch obscuring a stop sign.

The insurers of the two drivers involved in the accident will also pay a total of $1.3 million, bringing the total settlement amount to $8.8 million.

The plaintiff, Fata Krluc, was struck by a van that had jumped onto the sidewalk while walking in her neighborhood of Ozone Park, Queens in June 2011. The driver of the van veered onto the sidewalk after being struck by another van in an intersection, which was controlled by stop signs. The van that struck Krluc failed to stop at the intersection, though the other van did stop.

Krluc, who was 51 at the time, suffered a traumatic head injury and was taken to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, where she underwent brain surgery, according to one of her attorneys, David Scher, a partner at Block O'Toole & Murphy. Her brain injury caused depression, confusion, forgetfulness and diminished cognitive function, which disabled her from her job as a housekeeper, Scher said.

Krluc sued both drivers and the city in Queens Supreme Court. During discovery, it was revealed that the city had received a 311 call complaining that the stop sign the driver had run was obscured by tree branches, according to Scher.

Krluc also presented TV news footage from the day of the accident showing that the stop sign was obscured.

The trial in Krluc v. City of New York, 20275/11, had been set to start on Jan. 9.

The city law department did not return a request for comment.

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