Roofer Suffered Serious Brain Injury After Fall Accident

Phil Russotti obtained an $11.1 million verdict in Queens County Supreme Court, for a 53 year old man who was injured on a construction site at a New York City High School. Our client fell ten feet onto his head from a ladder causing a traumatic brain injury evidenced by dementia and organic mood disorder. This was a vigorously contested case because our client had failed a number of neuropsychological tests designed to uncover malingering by intentionally giving wrong answers. The defense seized upon this to insist that the plaintiff was exaggerating his disabilities. The defense also claimed that depositions given by the Plaintiff in this case and in an unrelated automobile accident proved that the plaintiff was not cognitively impaired but was lucid and had normal memory. However, with the assistance of a neuropsychologist and psychiatrist, Phil showed that our client suffered a dramatic personality change which altered his life by preventing him from working or being the constructive member of society he had been prior to the accident. Phil called the client's wife, two children and three life long friends to corroborate that Plaintiff lost all interest in his prior activities, and that the relationships with his family and friends permanently deteriorated after the accident.

Regarding the failed malingering tests, plaintiff's neuropsychologist, who had administered one of the tests Plaintiff failed, testified that our client answered incorrectly due to a serious psychiatric condition called an "adjustment disorder" which caused him to revert to a regressed childlike state and answer questions like he thought a child should. Additionally, the plaintiff's treating psychiatrist testified that his diagnosis of mood disorder was complicated by bi-polar features which rendered him oppositional, accounting for his intentionally giving wrong answers because he just refused to cooperate with the testing. Regarding the depositions, the neuropsychologist identified memory lapses, misunderstanding of questions and unresponsive answers.

Additionally, Phil proved through an independent witness that information the client gave in the deposition about the circumstances of his accident and conditions at the work site were incorrect. Using this evidence, the neuropsychologist testified that this demonstrated evidence of neurologically based brain damage and that the client was not cognitively intact. He explained that this behavior was typical of brain damaged people who "confabulate", i.e. make up details they forget. Phil also proved that our client's brain MRI taken 4 months after the accident, which was read as normal, was actually misread and that there was in fact evidence of brain damage on that MRI.

That finding was confirmed by a recent MRI. Phil also called a Professor of Neuroanatomy from Columbia University Medical School who identified damage to the frontal and temporal lobes of Plaintiff's brain and explained that these damaged areas of the brain cause functional deficits such as loss of impulse control, memory impairment, loss of concentration and diminished executive function. This witness then correlated these damaged areas with the functional deficits and psychiatric symptoms exhibited by our client and identified by his psychiatrist. This testimony together with the testimony of Plaintiff's friends and family was persuasive in overcoming the malingering defense and convincing the jury that our client suffered serious and permanent brain damage. The jury returned a verdict of $11.1 million for our client's pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of earnings and cost of rehabilitation and medical services.

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