Defense Verdict: Beata M. Newman Scarpulla as Administrator of the Estate of Don. A. Scarpulla v. Roland D. Williams
Beata M. Newman Scarpulla as Administrator of the Estate of Don. A. Scarpulla v. Roland D. Williams
Facts & Allegations
On January 18, 2012, plaintiff's decedent 79-year old Don Scarpulla, a design consultant, was struck by a vehicle in front of his home on East 79th street, between 1st and 2nd Avenues, in Manhattan. Scarpulla suffered a severe brain injury and was bedridden for two years before he died.
Scarpulla's wife, Beata M. Newman Scarpulla, as Administrator of the deceased plaintiff's estate, sued the driver of the vehicle, defendant Roland Williams for wrongful death through the negligent operation of his vehicle.
Plaintiff claimed that Scarpulla was crossing mid-block on 79th Street, without using a crosswalk. Counsel further claimed that he crossed the first of four travel lanes when he was struck by Williams’ vehicle heading west. Plaintiff further claimed that the defendant had ample time to avoid striking Scarpulla, but he was speeding and failed to pay attention to the roadway.
Plaintiff's forensic engineering expert testified that surveillance footage of the accident showed excessive speed at above the marked speed limit. He approximated the defendant's speed at 35 to 40 MPH, due to the severity of the injuries suffered by the plaintiff's decedent.
Defense counsel, through a voir dire hearing, successfully precluded the time entries on the surveillance video and countered that the defendant was driving at a reasonable speed and that he did not have sufficient time to avoid hitting Scarpulla. The defense was also able to impeach the plaintiff's expert forensic engineer because his opinion was based on claimed facts that were not supported by the video footage.
The jury found in favor of the defendants on the question of negligence in a 5-1 vote.