Young Father Awarded $20,181,484 in Damages After Undergoing 28 Surgeries for Injuries Suffered from Accident on Dangerous Roadway
On the evening of March 11, 2007, Slim Zouaoui was driving home to his wife and newborn son never imagining that his life would never again be the same.
NEW YORK, NY, August 10, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/ -- On the evening of March 11, 2007, Slim Zouaoui was driving home to his wife and newborn son never imagining that his life would never again be the same. As he was traveling on Route 6 in the Town of Somers, New York, Mr. Zouaoui and another vehicle encountered an icing condition on the roadway, resulting in a head-on collision that demolished both vehicles. Since the accident, Slim Zouaoui, an extremely active 32 year old IT prodigy, has seen his life irreparably altered. An ensuing lawsuit against the State of New York revealed that state officials were well aware of this icing condition and similar prior accidents on Route 6 but that this hazard was allowed to persist with no attempt by the state to rectify this life threatening condition. In fact, state officials failed to use any signs or otherwise warn drivers of the stretch of black ice that frequently formed on this roadway. Over the past five years since this accident, Mr. Zouaoui's life has devolved into a never ending cycle of pain filled with emergency hospitalizations that turn into weeks and nearly thirty surgeries aimed at saving his left arm which was crushed in the impact. Despite the heroic efforts of a team of surgeons at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, New York, Mr. Zouaoui has virtually no function in his dominant arm and he is left with a lifelong chronic pain condition from which there is no escape.
This matter proceeded to trial in the New York State Court of Claims, where numerous Department of Transportation (DOT) personnel and engineering experts testified regarding the construction and maintenance of this roadway. In his decision, Judge Mignano opined that the State was solely responsible for the happening of this accident in failing to maintain the roadway in a safe condition. Moreover, there was "overwhelming proof that this area of Route 6 was subject to recurrent hazardous icing in late February-early March 2007 resulting from a disruption of the highway's normal drainage." The DOT was aware of the problem and had determined this area needed "babysitting." A DOT highway maintenance supervisor who responded to the scene after the accident admitted to seeing at least 100 yards of black ice which he agreed was "as dangerous a condition as you can get on a roadway." Further, DOT personnel admitted that there was a problem on this stretch of roadway for weeks preceding this March 11, 2007 accident. Despite the admission of DOT witnesses that this area needed "babysitting", this area was only addressed during the week days with some minimal ditching work as well as salting and sanding measures. This accident occurred on a Sunday night, when the DOT admittedly failed to "babysit" the roadway.
Justice Mignano heard evidence of Mr. Zouaoui's medical expenses, loss in earning ability, and his pain and suffering. Besides the loss of function in his dominant arm, Mr. Zouaouis suffered from life threatening infections while in the hospital, which required tremendous amounts of antibiotic treatment. Mr. Zouaoui also developed secondary injuries to his stomach and rectum requiring surgical intervention. In his decision filed on July 25, 2012, Justice Mignano awarded Mr. and Mrs. Zouaoui a total of $20,181,484 to compensate their family for their economic loss as well as their extreme pain and suffering. This decision is reportedly the second largest amount awarded by the New York State Court of Claims. "The Zouaoui family hopes this decision will ensure that this dangerous problem is rectified so no family has to endure something like this again. They are just wonderful, kind people and we are happy that they can now move forward with their lives," said lead attorney Daniel O'Toole of Block, O'Toole & Murphy LLP.
Once a competitive pool player, free diver and guitarist, Mr. Zouaoui can no longer enjoy many of his prior passions in life. One of his greatest passions prior to the accident had been his career as a cutting edge information technology executive. Prior to the accident, Mr. Zouaoui often worked 14 hours a day, building the infrastructure for his company, a mid-size company specializing in online credit transactions. Mr. Zouaoui once had ambitions of becoming the Chief Technical Officer of this company.
* Mr. and Mrs. Zouaoui were represented at trial by Partner Daniel P. O'Toole and Associate Robyn Brazzil of the law firm Block, O'Toole & Murphy LLP. Block, O'Toole & Murphy LLP is a personal injury firm located in New York, New York.
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