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$460,000 Settlement for Motorcyclist

On March 9, 2010, a clear and dry day, a 49 year old Clark Law Firm client was riding her motorcycle in Marlboro, New Jersey. The client was an experienced biker, out for a leisure ride with two other motorcyclists. The group exited Route 18 South onto the Hartman Road exit ramp. As she proceeded down the exit ramp, the front tire of her motorcycle hit a pothole. Her motorcycle stopped suddenly causing her to be thrown off the motorcycle and onto the side of the road. As a result, she was injured and required surgery to repair her shoulder.

     

Plaintiff’s counsel William S. Peck, Esq. of the Clark Law Firm, PC in Belmar, N.J., alleged that the pothole at issue developed gradually over time, and as such there was ample opportunity for proper pavement maintenance and repair. Unfortunately, in this case, the needed maintenance and repair was not undertaken by the defendants State of New Jersey or the Township of Marlboro.

Ownership and control of the specific roadway area where the incident occurred came into question during the litigation. That is, defendants questioned whether the incident site was owned by, and under the control of, the State of New Jersey/New Jersey Department of Transportation or the Township of Marlboro/Marlboro Department of Public Works. Varying testimony in this regard, as well as an older jurisdictional map from 1970 indicated both New Jersey Department of Transportation and Township of Marlboro presence and responsibility on varying portions of the ramp in the incident area. Eventually, based on newer surveys conducted by defendants, it was agreed to between the defendants that the State of New Jersey owned area of the roadway where the incident occurred. However, Plaintiff’s counsel, in successfully opposing a motion for summary judgment by the Township, argued that the control by the Township of Marlboro in patching the roadway soon after the incident demonstrated that the Township also exercised control over the subject location.

Plaintiff’s counsel alleged there was a long term failure by both the State and Township to fix the pothole. Defendants only fixed it after a member of the community was injured. Defendants alleged that prior observations of the area were made and that no notice of the dangerous condition existed and that the condition must have only existed for a short duration prior to the incident. Defendants also alleged that she was responsible for her own injury by failing to avoid the pothole.

As a result of the motorcycle crash, the biker sustained a fracture of her right proximal humerus requiring open reduction and internal fixation surgery. She was out of work as a dental hygienist for approximately 12 months.

A settlement was reached with both public entities at trial in Monmouth County Superior Court in the total amount of $460,000, with the State of New Jersey paying $450,000 and the Township of Marlboro paying $10,000.

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