A Hudson County jury awarded $1.4 million on Feb. 28 to a police officer who claimed he was forced to retire because of injuries from a traffic accident.
On Dec. 26, 2007, Phillip Alvarado, then 38, had finished his shift as a Union City police officer and was entering his personal vehicle, parked on the right side of a one-way street.
Alvarado claimed that a semitrailer driven by Jose Alvarez and owned by his business, JAR Trucking Corp., hit Alvarado’s open driver’s side door, jar- ring him and forcing his vehicle onto the sidewalk. At the time, Alvarez was hauling goods for White Rose Inc. of Carteret and Rose Trucking Corp., its subsidiary.
Alvarado initially refused medical attention, but sought chiropractic care five weeks later. Later, he was treated by an orthopedist, a pain-management physician and an orthopedic surgeon, who performed a two-level lumbar fusion. But the unsuccessful outcome, and the associated pain, forced him to retire at age 41, says his attorney, Michael Lizzi of Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi P.C. P.C. P.C. in Fort Lee.
After trial before Superior Court Judge Mark Baber, the jury found 6-1 that Alvarez, JAR Trucking, White Rose and Rose Trucking were 100 percent jointly and severally liable.
Alvarado was awarded $1.4 million: $790,000 for future lost earnings, $404,000 for pain and suffering, and $206,000 for past lost earnings.
All parties were covered by Liberty Mutual of Boston, the primary car- rier; Crum & Forster of Morristown, the excess carrier; and Zurich of Schaumburg, Ill., the secondary excess carrier.
Defense counsel Joseph Gulino of Nicoletti, Gonson, Spinner & Owen in Hackensack confirms the verdict.
He says the defense argued that Alvarado was in his vehicle and negli- gently opened the door into the semi- trailer as it passed. The defense also claimed that Alvarado’s history of back pain and strenuous activity in the five weeks between the accident and his first treatment were to blame for his injuries.
– By David Gialanella