In a decision rendered September 30, 1998, this Court determined that the
defendant State of New York was 70% responsible for injuries suffered by
claimant Luca Iacampo, in connection with an accident which occurred on
September 24, 1992, at a work site on New York State Route 690 in Syracuse, New
York. In that decision, this Court found
and the general contractor, Santaro Industries, Inc., each 15% responsible for
the injuries suffered by claimant. A trial was held addressing the damages
which were allegedly sustained by claimants, and testimony was heard on March 12
through March 15, 2001, and continuing on March 19 through March 21, 2001. This
decision addresses the issue of those damages.
Claimant was struck by a vehicle while in the course of his employment as he
attempted to access a work zone on New York State Route 690 westbound, in the
vicinity of McBride Street in the City of Syracuse. After being struck by the
motor vehicle, claimant was transported by ambulance to the Emergency Room at
the State University of New York Health Science Center. Claimant was admitted
and remained confined to the hospital for approximately six and one-half months
following the accident, including 22 days in the intensive care unit.
Upon admission to the hospital, an exploratory laparotomy was performed, which
showed that claimant had a fractured spleen, lung contusions, three broken ribs,
and a pelvic fracture. Additionally, claimant had sustained open fractures to
both legs, and most importantly, had fractured three vertebrae, including a T-11
burst fracture. A CT scan was taken, which revealed bleeding in claimant's
brain, as well as a build-up of blood in his pelvic region.
The spinal injuries suffered by claimant have left him as a permanent, partial
paraplegic, and he will essentially be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of
his life. Hansen Yuan, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon and past Chairman of the
Department of Orthopedic Surgery at University Hospital, operated on claimant
and testified that claimant's spine had been "literally
, and was dislocated, which also caused an injury to, or partial tearing of, his
spinal cord. Since part of the spinal cord remained intact, claimant has a
partial range of motion, with limited motor and sensory function. Claimant
testified that he can walk around his house with the use of a walker, while
wearing braces on both legs, and can get from a seated position to an upright
position under his own power. He does, however, need assistance in getting into
the shower, and, at times, dressing himself. Because of the weather conditions
in this area, claimant is essentially house-bound during winter months, though
he can go outside of the house during the summer months. Claimant, by relying
upon his upper body strength and utilizing handrails, can ascend the stairway in
his home, but he requires assistance when he reaches the top of the stairs. The
extensive damage caused by these spinal injuries has caused claimant to suffer
from two distinct and identifiable forms of pain. These pains are referred to
as "spastic pain" and "neurogenic pain". Dr. Rina C. Davis, a staff physician
at the SUNY Spine Center, worked with claimant at the Center and testified that
claimant suffers from both types of pain as a result of his injuries. She
testified that neurogenic pain is caused by an injury to the spinal cord, and
results in constant, chronic pain to claimant. Spastic pain, although also
caused by damage to nerves in the spinal cord, disrupts the system of muscle
control and causes an intense, gripping pain to claimant for several seconds to
minutes every hour.
Testimony further established that in essence there is no realistic treatment
available to eliminate these types of pain. In attempts to alleviate this pain,
claimant was prescribed several types of medication, nerve blocks were
performed, and he was given a "TENS" unit to wear. After these treatments
proved unsuccessful, Mr. Iacampo had a dorsal column stimulator surgically
implanted in his lumbar spine. While this did offer some initial relief, the
pain experienced by Mr Iacampo continued, and it was determined that this device
did not and would not significantly alleviate his pain.
A decision was therefore made by claimant's treating physicians that he should
undergo the surgical implantation of a baclofen pump. This procedure was
performed in October, 1997, in which the dorsal column stimulator was removed
and the baclofen pump was inserted. The purpose of the pump is to provide for a
constant delivery of the liquid medication known as baclofen. A catheter runs
from the pump inside claimant's body into the intrathecal space in his spine,
where the medication is delivered to help reduce the spastic pain suffered by
claimant. Mr. Iacampo is required to have the baclofen pump refilled on a
regular basis, and will be required to do so for the balance of his life. He
receives the maximum possible dosage and notwithstanding that dosage, he
continues to experience constant pain, each and every hour of each and every
day. Further, from the medical testimony, claimant can expect to suffer from
this pain for the remainder of his life.
The claimant also required an operation for the fusion of six sequential spinal
vertebrae, in order to stabilize his spinal column. This fixation is permanent,
and restricts his spinal motion. In addition, as a result of his confinement to
a wheel chair, he will have to depend primarily on his upper body for bodily
movement, which will of necessity subject his upper body to abnormal wear and
Claimant has also experienced sexual impotency since the accident. Several
attempts were made to correct this problem, all of which proved unsuccessful.
Claimant was given the drug Viagra in the highest dose, which had no effect. He
also tried MUSE, described as a substance which comes in a dispenser which is
utilized to insert a small pellet through the opening of the penis in an attempt
to cause an erection. This also proved unsuccessful. Finally, claimant tried a
mechanical, battery-operated device, designed to artificially inflate the penis
with blood. This too proved unsuccessful. The testimony confirmed that the
spinal cord injuries suffered by claimant caused his sexual impotency.
Claimant also suffers from a disruption of bladder and bowel function. He must
sit on the toilet to urinate. He also must periodically catheterize himself in
order to empty urine from his bladder. His bowel dysfunction causes
constipation, which necessitates medication which he will require for the
balance of his life.
As previously noted, in addition to the injuries and conditions directly
related to the spinal column and spinal cord injuries, claimant suffered
orthopedic injuries. Complex, comminuted and compound fractures of both of Mr.
Iacampo's legs were caused by the accident. Both legs required external cage
fixations, with pins and bars. These fixations were kept on claimant's legs
until January (left leg)and February (right leg) of 1993. At that time the
external fixations were removed and internal medullar rods were surgically
inserted in both legs. Unfortunately, Mr. Iacampo's problems in connection with
his legs did not end at that time. He was readmitted to the hospital in
November, 1993 because of the non-union and rotation of the surgically implanted
rod in his right tibia. Surgery was performed and the original rod was removed
and replaced with an intramedullary rod with proximal interlocking. In March,
1994, and September, 1994, claimant underwent additional surgical operations on
his right leg, including bone grafts, removal of the intramedullary rod, and
As also noted at the outset of this decision, claimant fractured his pelvis,
which also required surgery to insert a permanent internal plate and screw
fixation. Claimant also sustained a fractured sacrum, massive internal
bleeding, chest wall trauma causing contusions to his lungs, and a fractured
spleen which was removed during surgery. As a direct result of all the injuries
sustained by claimant, he was required to take regular and constant doses of
various medications which were administered in an attempt to alleviate his
Claimant has clearly established to the satisfaction of the Court the severity
of the injuries suffered by him from this accident, and that he is permanently
debilitated and will endure constant pain for the balance of his life.
Prior to the accident, Mr. Iacampo had been a hardworking, physical laborer for
most of his life. He enjoyed socializing with his friends, working in his
garden, and assisting his wife in and about their home. It is evident that he
enjoyed a fine marital relationship with his wife Filomena, including conjugal
relations. Simply put, Mr. Iacampo's life since the date of the accident has
become one of constant pain and an inability to enjoy the most basic pleasures
of life. Regrettably, the Court must conclude that this life-style will
continue for the rest of Mr. Iacampo's life. Mr. Iacampo is unable to work in
any gainful employment (notwithstanding the testimony of the defense witness who
performed the independent medical examination on Mr. Iacampo), he is unable to
drive, out of concern both for his own safety and the safety of others, and he
must enter into each and every activity with extreme caution due to his constant
pain, his paralysis, and need to labor over such basic human functions as
eliminating his bodily wastes.
The Court observed Mr. Iacampo in the Courtroom, and including its review of
the testimony and documents presented herein, concludes that he is a very proud,
humble and determined individual who is not given to complaining about his
condition. Nonetheless, he finds himself, at a relatively young age, facing the
prospect of a lifetime of constant pain and restricted activities.
Similarly, claimant Filomena Iacampo faces the unenviable prospect of living
the balance of her life with a spouse who can no longer provide her with many of
the physical and emotional needs that are inherent in any marriage. Mrs.
Iacampo has impressed the Court as a devoted and loving wife and companion for
Mr. Iacampo. All indications are that she has given herself totally to assist
her husband in his day-to-day struggles to exist under these most trying and
painful conditions. She testified that Mr. Iacampo no longer desires to
socialize, that he has great difficulty sleeping, that he is almost totally
dependent on her for assistance and that she has had to assume all of the
responsibilities which had been formerly undertaken by Mr. Iacampo prior to the
accident. There can be no question that she has suffered a loss of consortium
and further, in the Court's opinion, there can be no question that the balance
of her life will be adversely affected by her husband's condition.
Following the trial on damages, counsel for the parties advised the Court that
the parties had reached agreement on certain factual issues relevant to the
determination of damages, as well as the actual dollar amount of certain
elements of the damages suffered by claimants. The parties were also able to
agree as to the need for, and costs of, several items necessary to implement a
life care plan for Mr. Iacampo. These stipulated facts and dollar amounts are
set forth in an "Agreement and Consent to Stipulate to Specific Facts Concerning
Damages", received by the Court on June 20, 2001. The Court has accepted these
stipulations of fact and, where appropriate, has incorporated them into this
The parties stipulated that the amount of lost wages by claimant Luca Iacampo
totaled $322,536.00, which loss occurred between September 24, 1992 and
mid-September, 2000, and the Court accepts this figure. Claimant did not make
any claim for lost future wages.
The parties also stipulated that the total amount of medical and indemnity
payments made in connection with Mr. Iacampo's accident-related care, treatment
and disability, as of March 9, 2001, was $678,593.48. Of this amount,
$499,384.00 constitutes medical
The parties also stipulated with regard to future damages that the value
(including inflation) of claimant Luca Iacampo's lost capacity to perform future
household services is $35,000.00.
Due to the permanent nature and severity of the injuries sustained by claimant,
claimants' experts testified as to the need for a continuing life care plan for
Mr. Iacampo, including periodic medical and diagnostic evaluations, therapeutic
modalities, adaptive and mobility equipment, home health aide services, personal
care commodities, and architectural modifications. As mentioned above, the
parties, through the efforts of counsel, were able to stipulate both as to the
need for, and cost of, several of these items.
With regard to the life care plan, (as well as to future pecuniary and
non-pecuniary losses), the parties stipulated, and the Court so finds, that the
future life expectancy of claimant Luca Iacampo is 16.4 years. The parties
acknowledge that claimant Filomena Iacampo's date of birth is October 23, 1954,
and that her life expectancy is properly measurable by reference to the life
expectancy tables (females) set forth in the New York State Pattern Jury
The parties also stipulated to a 4% annual inflation rate, to be applied to the
cost of future health related goods and services.
While the Court has agreed with the parties as to the need for and cost of the
stipulated items, several items of the proposed life care plan remain in
dispute, and the Court will now address each of these items individually.
In his life care plan, claimants' expert indicated a need for
four pairs of gloves per year, to protect the hands of Mr. Iacampo while using
his wheelchair. In their respective post-trial briefs, however, the parties
agreed to the need for two such pairs of wheelchair gloves per year, at an
annual cost of $32.00. Over Mr. Iacampo's life expectancy of 16.4 years, the
total cost, without inflation, is $525.00. With annual inflation stipulated at
4%, this total amounts to $722.00, which sum is hereby awarded to claimants.
: Claimants' medical testimony indicated
that Mr. Iacampo is at high risk to suffer depression in the years to come. In
order to combat this potential problem, it is claimants' position that Mr.
Iacampo should be afforded the opportunity to seek psychiatric consultations in
the future, when the need arises, and claimants' expert recommended an allowance
of four psychiatric consultations per year.
Testimony established, however, that Mr. Iacampo has not undergone any
psychiatric consultations since shortly after the accident. Furthermore, even
though Mr. Iacampo has taken prescribed medications which are considered
anti-depressants, the medication had been taken to alleviate claimant's
neurogenic pain, and not to combat depression. Claimant has maintained a
positive outlook since his accident, despite his numerous medical problems and
debilitating injuries. As claimant has not shown any desire to seek such
psychiatric consultations in the approximately nine years since his accident,
the Court is not convinced that claimant will pursue any such assistance in the
future and, accordingly, makes no such award.
Under the life care plan proposed by claimants' expert, Dr.
Reagles, a commode is included under the category of Adaptive Equipment and
Assistive Devices. He also provides for a mobile shower\commode chair within
his category of Mobility Equipment, and proposes a handicap accessible bathroom
under his category of Architectural Modifications. When the architectural
modifications are completed, Mr. Iacampo will not have a need for a portable
commode, and during the interim period, the mobile shower\commode chair should
be adequate for Mr. Iacampo's needs. Therefore, no award is made for the
commode as proposed by claimants' expert under his category of Adaptive
Equipment and Assistive Devices.
PERSONAL CARE COMMODITIES:
Defendant contested the items proposed by
claimants' expert, Dr. Reagles, under this category of his proposed life care
plan, either as to need, frequency of need, and/or cost. The Court will
separately consider each of the items proposed by claimants' expert.
Although there is no question the Mr. Iacampo will
require lubricating cream in order to catheterize himself, he will not need a
cream containing spermicide, at the cost proposed by claimants' expert. The
Court therefore finds that an award of $50.00 per year for such surgical cream
is appropriate. Over Mr. Iacampo's life expectancy of 16.4 years, the total
cost, without inflation, is $820.00. With annual inflation of 4% factored, the
total amounts to $1,129.00, which sum is hereby awarded.
The life care plan set forth by claimants' expert proposes
four pairs of gloves per day. While the Court agrees as to the need for such
gloves, it agrees with defendant's witness that these gloves can be purchased at
a price far less than suggested by claimants' expert. The Court therefore makes
an annual allowance for gloves of $108.00. Over Mr. Iacampo's life expectancy,
the total cost, without inflation, is $1,771.00. With 4% annual inflation, the
total cost is $2,438.00, which amount is hereby awarded.
While there is no dispute that Mr. Iacampo will require the
use of catheters over his remaining life, defendant has questioned the frequency
of need, and the cost, of these catheters. The Court, however, agrees with the
life care plan as proposed by Dr. Reagles, both as to frequency of need and
cost, and that an award of $336.00 annually for catheters is appropriate. The
total cost, over Mr. Iacampo's life expectancy, is $5,510.00, and with annual
inflation of 4%, the total is $7,582.00, which amount is hereby awarded.
At trial, claimants' expert, Dr. Reagles, testified that
the figure utilized in his life care plan was overstated, and that the correct
figure projected to an annual cost of $163.00. The Court accepts this figure,
which totals $2,673.00, without inflation, over Mr. Iacampo's life expectancy.
With inflation at 4%, the total amount is $3,678.00, which sum is hereby
Although Dr. Reagles included insertion trays in his life
care plan (consisting of lubricating jelly, a catheter, sterile gloves, and a
cleansing pad), the contents, except for cleansing pads, have already been
addressed and provided herein. Accordingly, the Court makes an award of $58.00
annually for cleansing pads. The total cost over Mr. Iacampo's life expectancy,
without inflation, is $951.00. With 4% annual inflation factored, the total is
$1,309.00, which amount is hereby awarded.
Based upon the nature of Mr. Iacampo's
injuries, and the fact that he is now and will be permanently confined to a
wheelchair, claimants' expert, Dr. Reagles, proposed in his life care plan that
claimants' existing two-story home be replaced with a single floor residence,
with modifications made to make the residence handicap accessible. Even though
claimants have continued to reside in their existing home since the accident,
the Court agrees that given Mr. Iacampo's physical disabilities, he should be
provided with the means to acquire a new home, with handicap accessible features
to meet his needs.
Although in his plan Dr. Reagles proposed a 2,500 square foot residence, he
testified at trial that claimant's needs could be accommodated in a home of
2,100 square feet, the size of claimants' current home. Based on the testimony
presented at trial, the Court finds the cost for such a home (2,100 square feet)
to be $168,000.00. The Court adds $40,000.00 to this cost for handicap
modifications, and $20,000.00 for the cost of a lot, for a total of $228,000.00.
In their "Agreement and Consent", the parties stipulated that the current fair
market value of claimants' residence is $103,300.00, and the Court accepts this
figure. Accordingly, the Court makes a net award for Architectural
Modifications of $124,700.00.
Based upon the above findings, together with the items stipulated to by the
parties in their "Agreement and Consent to Stipulate to Specific Facts
Concerning Damages", the following schedule represents the monetary awards made
by this Court as to each designated item of the life care plan:
Category Total Years, Annual Costs, Without Inflation, With 4%
Psych. Eval.* 1.0 650.00 650 650
Modifications 1 $124,700.00 $124,700.00 $124,700.00
Upon hearing the proofs and reviewing all of the documentary evidence which was
produced at the damages trial, it is apparent that claimant Luca Iacampo
suffered severe debilitating injuries which were painful in nature and which
will continue on a chronic, debilitating and painful manner for the remainder of
his life. Quite simply, this individual is fortunate not to have died as a
result of the numerous severe injuries which he suffered as a result of this
In addition to the above awards, and after careful consideration of all the
factors which have impacted upon the life of claimant Luca Iacampo, the Court
therefore makes the following awards:
Claimant Luca Iacampo is entitled to the amount of $1,200,000.00 for past
damages for pain and suffering.
Claimant Filomena Iacampo is entitled to the sum of $200,000.00 for past
damages for loss of consortium.
Claimant Luca Iacampo is entitled to the sum of $2,500,000.00 as damages for
future pain and suffering.
Claimant Filomena Iacampo is entitled to the sum of $300,000.00 as
damages for future loss of consortium.
Based upon the foregoing, the awards made herein can be summarized as
Past Lost Wages $322,536.00
Past Medical Expenses 499,384.00
Capacity to Perform Future Household Services 35,000.00
Past Pain and Suffering (Luca Iacampo)
Past Loss of Consortium (Filomena Iacampo) 200,000.00
Pain and Suffering (Luca Iacampo) 2,500,000.00
Future Loss of Consortium
(Filomena Iacampo) 300,000.00
Negligence (15%) 1,040,278.00TOTAL AWARD
As set forth above, this Court has reduced the award made herein, including the
loss of consortium awards, by the amount of comparative negligence previously
found by this Court.
Furthermore, the Court notes that the parties have agreed that all issues
related to collateral source payments, periodic payments, and lien satisfaction
requirements have been reserved, pending this decision.
The amount awarded herein shall carry interest from the date of the
determination of liability on September 30, 1998
(see, Dingle v Prudential Prop. & Cas. Ins., Co.
, 85 NY2d 657;
Love v State of New York
, 78 NY2d 540).
Judgment will be held in abeyance pending a hearing pursuant to Article 50-B of
the CPLR, which hearing will be scheduled promptly.