1 Montauk Avenue, Suite 301
New London, CT 06320
August 27, 2009, started out like any other day for our client a retired scientist. He waited to hear the sound of the mail truck as its driver put mail in the boxes along his street. When our client saw the truck stop and then drive past his box, he walked out of his house, down the sidewalk, and crossed the street to his box. His next memory is three days later while confined to New London’s Lawrence & Memorial Hospital to which he was taken after being backed over by the mail truck.
Recently we were able to settle the case against the United States, acting for the Post Office for $287,500.00.
We developed evidence that the driver of the mail truck after delivering mail to our client’s mailbox, had driven away and then realized that he had forgotten to deliver an item to a box located before our client’s box. Rather than turning around and approaching the boxes again, the mailman threw the postal truck in reverse and ran down our client who was standing at his mailbox. Postal regulations have a no tolerance policy prohibiting backing up and a Connecticut statute bars unsafe backing. The mailman was terminated by the post office within weeks of the accident for his violations.
On impact the client was knocked to the ground and was, partially, run over by the truck. He sustained multiple injuries including a concussion, a fracture of the nose, fractures of five ribs; a left traumatic pneumothorax, a laceration of the elbow, and a sprain of the neck. Traumatic pneumothorax occurs when a physical injury causes the lung to collapse. Because of the pneumothorax he, shortly after admission, underwent surgery to relieve a congestion of air and to insert a chest tube to further evacuate air and fluid. He experienced significant pain in the ribs and suffered a decrease in his blood pressure. He was amnesic as to the events of the accident. He remained in the hospital for eight days.
The visiting nurse saw him daily after discharge. Three days after leaving the hospital, he was found by the nurse to have little or no breathing capacity. He was taken to an outpatient center where an x-ray showed a large left pleural effusion. He was then re-admitted to the hospital where, once again, a chest tube was inserted. At home he was confined to a chair with an attached tray. He virtually lived in it for months, sleeping in it, eating in it, and watching television from it. He had short-term memory loss in addition to having no recollection of the accident. His medical bills approached $60,000.00.
We brought suit under the Federal Torts Claim Act, which controls litigation against the United States and its agencies. The government was represented by Attorney Michelle L. McConaghy, Assistant United States Attorney in New Haven, The case was assigned to United States District Court Judge Robert N. Chatigny and, United States Magistrate Judge Donna F. Martinez conducted the discovery and settlement conferences.
During discovery, the government admitted liability but the government was resistant to paying our opinion of fair value. Their defense was based on what they thought was a relatively quick and essentially complete recovery by the plaintiff from his injuries. What they failed to recognize was the agonizing nature of those injuries during that time period and the horror of the accident itself – namely the violent striking of the man’s body without warning by the mail truck, being impacted by the truck a second time, and then being hurled onto the road and knocked unconscious. Ultimately, our persistence and persuasive presentation of the plaintiff’s damages prevailed.